:: behold :: POST NUMBER TWO HUNDRED! :: fanfare ::
I’ve been counting down to this and then putting it off, because I wanted to find something important or profound to say in post # two-oh-oh.
But instead I think two little moments from the last two days are worth a little lingering. So here we go.
Little Moment #1
Last night I went to dinner with my parents @ McAlister’s.
In the last few years, our relationship has shifted. Sure, they still worry about me constantly…telling me to “be careful” if I say I’m going to the mall, for instance…or the bathroom…but we’ve evolved past the power struggles of high school into a friendship of sorts. They buy my dinner, and I lend them seasons of Mad Men. It’s lovely.
Walking to our table, I heard a little voice behind me say, “YEAH!” and then this tiny kid skimmed past me, sipping from a to-go glass of tea almost as big as his torso. I’m not good at guessing ages, but I’d estimate he was kindergarten sized? And he was so, so happy. (You know that sort of “YEAH!” sound, because you’ve made it before. When something is so, so good that it takes you off guard, and so you let your guard down and just celebrate it. Yeah.) That sip of tea was making his LIFE, and why shouldn’t it? It’s springtime! He’s alive and sweet tea is tasty!
Not particularly meaningful, but nice and sweet nonetheless…
Not unlike a torso-sized glass of McAlister’s tea…
(Yeah, I know. That metaphor is awful. Hang on, it’ll all come together.)
Little Moment #2
My mom works as an aide for Wonder Years (the at-risk preschool program—not the beloved ’90s dramedy). Which means she spends her days with 4-year-olds. Which means I get to hear lots of cute stories. Today she told me about the stoplight system for monitoring kids’ behavior. Pretty straightforward: good kids stay on green, slightly naughty kids go yellow, etc. …all the way to black. (B’cause three shades of badness just aren’t enough these days?) Anyway, I guess there’s a running joke (big hit with the 4-year-old crowd) that the teachers are always “on green.” And that struck me as really funny. I kind of love the idea of Mom getting put “on yellow” every once in a while, just to keep things interesting. (I would be a horrible, just horrible, teacher.)
That story brought up a memory of my own from 3rd grade. (That year was intense, y’all! Remember? Cursive handwriting…times tables…Central American capital cities set to rap music… [oh, for sure] I can still sing part of it: “San Juan, Puerto Rico / San Salvador, El Salvador / Managua, Nicaragua…” Catchy as hell.)
Most of my childhood memories are all mashed together in my mind, buried under all the algebra equations and Facebook statuses that have come along since, but this next one is vivid even after 20 years.
My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Rogers, and the other teacher, Mrs. Rozell, (yep. small school = two classes.) were acting out a math problem for us, something about shopping at Wal-Mart. As they were pretending to browse together, out of nowhere Mrs. Rogers mime-reached for a toy gun out of an invisible display (I can still see it. She employed excellent space work.) and she went ape with it, just like a 3rd grader would do, much to Mrs. Rozell’s mock dismay.
IT WAS AWESOME. It was just so silly and free and unexpected. And it stuck. There it is, still in my mind. TWENTY years later, it still makes me happy.
Finally, It All Comes Together, As Promised
So, both these Little Moments got me thinking about happy thoughts.
I just finished the book The Depression Cure, which my brain doctor recommended to me last week.
[Sidebar: Yes, I see a brain doctor. I suppose this statement alone could be one of those “important or profound” confessions worthy of a 200th blog post, but I don’t mean for it to be. People see brain doctors (people you know even…) just like people see foot doctors. Or lady-business doctors. Your brain is just another part of your body, really, and as such it can sometimes get sick.
Mine happens to “get sick” sort of like how a kid with a cold gets sick: taking turns between flamboyant bursts of rebellious energy & sudden crashes of pure exhaustion. (Which is one of the better analogies I’ve ever come up with to explain it all, actually.) But that’s life. We all have our stuff. Keeps life interesting… Okay, you ready to go back now?]
So the book. It’s great. Full of advice on how to keep any brain healthy. When it comes to happy thoughts, the author explains, our minds are creatures of habit. Our neural pathways are connected in part by our mood states, and so our minds tend to think about the same types of things, thanks to the mood associations our memories have made. Bad moods can breed bad thoughts; good moods breed good.
Seems simple enough, but as emotionally colorful as my mind might be (like I said, crashes & bursts), sometimes it can be hard for me to connect to simple happiness.
Which can be hard for everybody sometimes, right?
So maybe this little kid with his tea + a 3rd grade memory of my teacher’s surprising silliness might be important or profound after all.
Good thoughts >> Good habits >> Good life.
(Photos by Matt Allen. Pretty good with the iPhone and the happy thoughts.)