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DARE TO BE HAPPY

1 February 2003

Maybe it was the mimosas. But they had probably long-since lost their effect by the time we were driving home from the Super Bowl party Sunday night.

It's a 40 minute drive from where we "watched" (yeah...right...) the game, so there was lots of time to chat and process the things we had talked about with other people during the course of the party. Ironically, Shelly and Ellen didn't know that many people either, though they were good friends of the hostesses. So we were all getting to know several new people.

Somehow we began to get very philosophical, and were talking about the stories behind some of the women we'd met, the paths one takes in one's life, the effect those paths have on your life....and the different ways one can choose to react to the ups and downs in one's life.

The next morning, I read a draft of an entry Steve put in his journal (a section he's since edited out). He was referring to the entry I wrote recently about not joining the convent and he was talking about his own not becoming a preacher and how his life has changed as a result of that decision.

It reminded me of my conversation with Ellen and Shelly. Among other things, we discussed the negative events in our lives--the painful things, the disappointing things, the things that make you wonder, sometimes, if life is still worth living.

I expressed my feeling about how important all the events in one's life are. If I hadn't gone through a, b, and c, I wouldn't now be enjoying 1, 2, and 3.

I look back over all the forks in all the roads I've traveled these past nearly 60 years and I realize that if I had taken the other path how very different my life would be. Just looking at a few pivotal moments and how they changed my life...

Going to UC Berkeley was a big mistake for me at the time, but if I hadn't gone there, I wouldn't have met Walt and wouldn't be sitting here today looking at photos of our children. I wouldn't be part of the wonderful "Newman Group" and had all those years of pinata parties.  I hated the move to Davis, but without the move to Davis, I never would have learned medical transcription, the kids would probably never have gotten serious about theatre, Lawsuit would never have existed, we never would have met so many people from all over the world.

Obviously the deaths of David and Paul were two of the most traumatic events of our lives and I would rather have them back again, but if Paul had not died, I never would have met Steve, who has become such a central figure in my life. Olivia and I would not have become good friends and I probably would never have met Peggy, nor be planning a trip to Australia at the moment.

We sometimes have control over the events in our lives, sometimes we do not. What we do have control over is how we react to those events. It saddens me when people take pivotal negative moments and use those moments as an excuse to never be happy again.

I think of my father and his reaction to my sister's death. He felt it was his loss and his alone--he never acknowledged that my mother or I could be suffering pain at her loss too. The loss consumed him--to the point where he was still angry and crying about it 20 years later. The sad thing was that in choosing to hang on to that pain and that anger, he missed so many beautiful things in life. By her death, Karen became the golden child--not the one who fought with him constantly, not the one he followed out to the car yelling at the last time he saw her. By her death she became "Daddy's little girl," while he kept the living daughter he still had at arm's length.

I also recall a conversation I had with my friend Michael, who lost so many friends to AIDS that he vowed never to let anybody close to him again. Someone dragged him to The Last Session and he met people who have become very close to him. He feels he has been reborn and is very thankful that he allowed himself to be open to love again.

Maybe it's the polyanna in me, but I try to look on the positive side--to realize that the old cliché about every cloud having a silver lining can really be true, if you are open to receiving the good that may result from something tragic. If you close yourself off to allowing any good to come into your life ever again, you aren't going to find it--but there are beautiful experiences out there for people who are willing to risk being happy.

Quote of the Day

Happiness is not a goal.  It is a by-product.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Yesterday's Photo

My Godfather, Fred West,
about whom the "one year ago"
entry was written

One Year Ago
Always Go to the Head
I suppose I didn't appreciate the wisdom of this saying I'd heard all my life until I became an adult and began dealing with entities on a regular basis. The older I get, the more I realize what a very wise man my godfather was.

Two Years Ago
View from the Soap Box
Gay people do not have equal rights. And that threatens all people’s rights. If we can decide today that gay people cannot have the same rights that other tax-paying citizens have, what’s to prevent someone at some point from deciding that fat people should have their rights curtailed? Or left handed people? Or Irish people? Or Black people? Or songwriters? (especially songwriters :)).


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Pounds Lost:  67.2
(I really, really hated to put that down!!!)

(this figure is updated on Tuesdays)

On the Odometer

URL Total 741.6
Blue Angel Total 594.3
2003 YTD Cumulative:  112.5

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Created 1/29/03

 

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