A Warm Puppy

This might be very hubristic, but here goes. I’m writing this down for myself (because I need reminding) and anyone else who’s struggling with some personal problems, the angst of our times, or the inscrutable pain of depression.

  1. Not every day is great. Most days are neither great nor lousy.
  2. Often the greatness of a day depends on a person’s outlook.
  3. Sometimes a good outlook is an act of will.
  4. If you go outside for thirty minutes and walk around, you’ll see something beautiful that will cheer you up.
  5. Change is constantly happening and often disorienting. I’m experiencing that now. Somewhere deep inside me, in a repository void of logic, I thought getting my hip fixed would transform my life. It only transformed me. Transforming my life is my business, not my surgeon’s.
  6. That serenity prayer from AA is actually pretty good. There’s a lot of stuff out there that can make us miserable but we can’t change it. We can change our perspective on it.
  7. Everyone is fucked up one way or another so compassion is important.
  8. Everyone is afraid others are judging them.
  9. Smiling at people can improve their day and yours. Where I live, an idle and obvious comment on the weather is a big part of communicating goodwill. We’re all equally subject to the vicissitudes of weather and here weather is often extreme. In CA, we commented on the traffic, Santa Anas or the surf. In China, after the Cultural Revolution, the most common greeting between friends was “Have you eaten?” because food was — and had been — scarce.
  10. Doing something for others — even a very small something like holding the door for a lady who’s taking two dogs and a big bag of dog food to the vet — can help us see where we truly are in the world.
  11. A good way to fight depression (yes, folks, I’ve suffered from it off and on since my teens) is to do one thing every day that materially improves one’s life whether it’s cleaning out the garden for winter or washing your clothes. It tells the psyche that it’s NOT impotent, but has the power to improve something.
  12. Bad stuff happens. If we survive it more-or-less intact, that means we get to plant another garden, pet another dog, make another friend, smile at another stranger, look at another snowy mountain range, take another hike, write or tell another story.
  13. We lose people we love all the time. Sometimes they die, sometimes they move away, sometimes we grow apart, sometimes we don’t like each other anymore. It’s just how it is. We might miss them forever, but the good part is that we knew them, they were part of our lives for a while, and we don’t forget them. It sounds like cold-comfort but it isn’t. There’s a Brazilian Portuguese word for this emotion, Saudade. It means missing someone and feeling sad but, at the same time, being happy that you know them.
  14. Loneliness is a choice. My mother died of loneliness. She thought all the time about how my dad had died and she was alone. This blinded her to the love of her daughter, her sisters, and her friends. Maybe nothing could make up for losing my dad, but with 20+ years left on her personal horizon, it wasn’t a very useful world view. The presence of another person cannot fix our lives. See number 3. 😉



1 Bear and me at Noah's Arff

Going to the boarding kennel to see my dogs a few days after my surgery



11 thoughts on “A Warm Puppy

    • Absolutely. Worrying about fixing the universe doesn’t add to anyone’s happiness and it is not the job of people over 55. It’s the job of people who have not yet encountered the great wall of mortality and impotence that is maturity. Thank God for the young and that we were and that we are not any longer.

  1. Thank you, Martha. I’m finishing off my blog reading for the morning with your post. It is a good reminder. And now I’m going to take my coffee outside and be with my dogs. Ama turns 6 today. I must be with my Queen.

  2. I like this, Martha. After I had my surgeries and was out of work and had my pity parties, I slowly turned a corner. Back at work–to a very changed work (it happens when you take a 6-month leave), I realized things are not gonna go my way every day–so deal with it. Something in my brain changed, I think. Little things don’t get to me. It cannot be my way or the highway. And I am a better person for it. These are gems you posted here. A really great read.

    • Thank you! You had the awful experience of being really ill. I was just painfully inconvenienced for a (long) while. I had to focus on myself pre and post surgery, but it’s no way to live. 🙂

    • Thank you. I’m glad they hit me when my dog and I were walking through the dry, fallen leaves enjoying the cool wind and looking at snowy Mt. Blanca. It was a gentle wake up call.

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