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Life is attitude, beginning with the ability to laugh at yourself
December 16, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
I had someone I’ve never met blast me for trying to find humor in the picture of President Obama taking a selfie while the first lady looked stern in the background.
To me, it was just a funny picture. Could have been any two people anywhere.
Turns out, my simple attempt at humor was taken as reason for a five-paragraph rant about finding a candidate I like and having him run.
I thought, “Sheesh. Either the president is made of glass or people simply have had a sense-of-humor-ectomy in this nation."
Saturday night the issue of attitude hit me between the eyes with a contrast in stories on the nightly news on TV.
The first two stories were of the tragic kind: Newtown, Conn., trying to get quietly through the first anniversary of its school shooting, as if any little town anywhere wants to forever be known as the place of a school shooting; and Centennial, Colo., dealing with the aftermath of yet another school shooting in the Denver suburbs, the place where the word “Columbine” became synonymous with “mass shootings by kids.”
The third story was about bad weather and hundreds of flight delays. It featured some woman griping about her winter vacation being shortened because of the weather and her inability to get on a plane to go somewhere.
I know the third story really wasn't related in the sense that the griping woman could have been any of us having our trip interrupted by weather.
But in the end, it’s all about attitude, from the blast on my attempted Obama humor to the response of the delayed flier.
On Sunday, even church was no sanctuary, with our priest blasting the column about the pope on the Sunday editorial page (attention, Judge Napolitano, please consult a dictionary before writing) and pointing out that the Business section front story (which I had edited) about people earning more than $250,000 had little to do with most people. (Don't be taken aback. Priests do use the media as a jumping off point, and often deservedly so. I'm used to it. Didn't bat an eye.)
And at the end of Mass, a fellow choir member who happens to own a Shelby Mustang, a regular Mustang and a black Dodge Charger thought my post about the Ohio Turnpike speeder last week aimed somehow at him. (He forgot that the prey for Steve McQueen’s Mustang in “Bullitt” was a black 1968 Dodge Charger.)
And last night, I realized that I was watching my son sing maybe for the last time during our vespers service at St. Francis.
I got up this morning feeling grumpy.
I could have chosen to be like the delayed lady. It’s easy enough when people disagree to walk away. I did that for 19 months in the name of “reinventing myself.” Baloney. That was running away, plain and simple.
It also would be easy to get depressed that my son’s singing was another sign of the years slipping away from me.
I got up feeling snarky, bummed out, ready to slip back into that waaaah-waaah self-pity world I was so good at falling into for much of the first four decades of my life. But no. I’m not going to do that in this post-50 decade. To paraphrase JFK, I choose to do the other thing, not because it is easy, but because it is hard.
I’m not going to be the lady griping about her delayed vacation when there is real, genuine hurt in the world. I’m going to take criticisms of my work as a point of pride. People are at least aware that I'm still here, still reading my stuff after all these years. And my son, well, it’s time to be thankful for a good young man, despite his being saddled with me as a dad for 22 years.
So, my wish for all of you this gray, sloppy and cold Ohio Valley Monday is that you look on the shiny side of life’s coin.
It’s only bad if you choose it to be, no matter your circumstance.
Someone always has something far deeper than you, and you can lift them up, just by choosing to smile at the world, and laugh at yourself first.
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