I was thinking of how happy I felt when writing to Eva about dancing
I mean, everyone needs to dance in the street with a bunch of other
folks now and then.
Folks got to make a joyful noise now and again.
There's an art to being joyful and it starts with not caring what
anyone thinks about you having fun.
Dig it, I used to have back pains, real bad, couldn't walk, with
little children to care for, I was a mess.
I was reading for the blind in college and we adopted a blind
acupuncturist from Tokyo. He loved how my mother made home made
pickles and she'd find him warm clothing and stuff. Traditionally
blind folks are given the opportunity to learn massage and
acupuncture, because in a class based society it's good that everyone
can be modest, the masseuse is blind after all. So hundreds of years
later the practice still goes on. Sensei's massage and needle poking
was putting him through college getting an advanced degree in visual
but back to the pain
I made effort with western medicine and what was offered was pills
that masked the pain, some exercise suggestions but the pain was
I never wanted to give acupuncture a consideration. I'm the kid who
faints when she got regular childhood vaccines. Faint dead away, bonk
my head on stuff. Like I want to make an appointment to have a bunch
of needles poking out a message in Braille on my back and my legs "If
you can read this you're up too close."
But the pain just was too much. Sensei came over, drilled me with
needles and it wasn't immediate and total pain relief, it was
appreciable and got better over time. But there was something he said,
well two things
loose 50 pounds and keep it off... done and then some
and to "develop a give a shit attitude"
Huh? Sensei, is that appropriate acupuncture nomenclature, "a give a
shit attitude". I'm shocked!
He said, "You stress too much. You stress over things you have no
control over." now you got to hear "stless" when I write
got to read this with a Japanese accent. "You stress over the gay baby
whales, eating the rainforest, farting out the ozone and you have no
control over any of those things."
I laughed so hard the needles almost shot out of my body. But he was
right, ya know? It was a Satori moment of clarity.
There are things we have immediate control over. First and foremost we
have control over whether we see the glass as half empty or we see it
as half full. I'm talking about brain control. If we choose to see all
these things we read about that are far away, out of our sphere of
influence as immediate dangers to our person and our loved ones then
look for neck, shoulder and back pain. Look for cortisol to build up
plaque in your veins and have a heart attack. About stuff that isn't
within your sphere of influence and isn't an immediate threat.
Because the amount of information is doubling every so many years, we
know about a LOT of horrendous stuff, that's outside our sphere of
Reach out your arms, how far can you reach? You can hug the folks who
are in your immediate environment and you've done one good thing for
the day. You can hug your self, that's two good things. You can post
to the list and hug us, that's over 800 good things. Those 800 people
you've reached out to are within your sphere of influence. They've
invited you into their brains, through their eyes, by way of what
you're writing to them. They can reach their arms out wide and hug the
folks who are in their immediate environment and so on and so on.
Since all y'all are within my sphere of influence what shall I gift to
you that will send on a positive message, that will ripple out and do
We have a right, nay a duty, to look at the glass as half full. We are
engraving wrinkles in our brain by going over any bit of information,
what shall that groove in your brain be? Positive or negative? What do
you want to default to when you're loosing brain cells due to aging,
happy grooves or bummed out grooves? By seeking out what makes you
feel joy, you are practicing good mental health. By letting go of
fears and anxieties about things that are far away and out side of
your sphere of influence you give yourself mental room to find your
and follow that.
Sensei also told me that if I care about all those "big issues". My
responsibility to myself is to do something about it: write to your
politicians, register to vote and do it. If the "big issues" are so
compelling dedicate myself to the one that is closest to my concerns,
like child care or aid to education, for example. Everything else, we
can't stress about, we know too much with modern media, we get burnt
out. When we're burnt out by these not so immediate threats we don't
taste the strawberry or kiss our loved ones enough.
I took all of Sensei's advice and I have no more pain in my back, I
also am realistic about what is and what is not an immediate threat, I
choose my stresses by cultivating a profound "give a shit attitude"
about that which I cannot effect or control. It's the part of the Art
of being joyful.
So this is my gift to you, a ramble
01/18/06 Amendment: I'm not saying, in this Ramble,
that folks should be apathetic, but rather realistic. Got a beef with the
government, send an email to your elected official. Register to vote and
do so. That's where our satisfaction with accomplishing what we can do
There's economic boycott, we can fight with our wallets. When a
corporation sent baby formula that was deficient to third world countries
I stopped buying all products made by that company. Then I wrote them a
letter to tell them they lost a customer and why. I also told my friends
and they also boycotted all products by that company until changes were
made. Corporations understand boycott.
There are things we can do about big issues but it takes more than one
person. It takes a bunch of people who agree with each other to all do one
little thing. A million people doing one little thing is a big powerful
thing in the end.
When we do our little thing, en mass, then we have to take a step back and
tell ourselves that we did what we could and take satisfaction from that.
Joy is fleeting in a harsh world. Being aggressive to capture joy and hold
it close is a skill we all have to practice or we fall out of the practice
of knowing how. Maintaining a peaceful heart takes practice. Looking on
the bright side and counting our blessings takes practice.
What I hope we all do here is to aggressively capture joy and hold it
close. That we take what joy we can find here and spread it around us in
our lives, let it ripple out.