Imagining outcomes

This morning, I attended the funeral of a friend’s mother. She lived to be 92, had 14 great-grandchildren, was happily married for 49 years, and was lucid and even cracking jokes with those at her bedside until almost the end.

Almost everyone I talked or listened to commented on her outlook – positive, even when facing adversity. How central that seems to have been to this life well lived!

I’ve been thinking a lot about attitudes recently – actually almost daily, without coming to any clear conclusions. Through the course of the year, documented in various posts, I’ve been looking at views and outlooks, my own and others, from the perspective of which are helpful and which are not.

It’s easier to see in others. My mother lost her father when she was in grade school, as the result of a freak accident. I remember my mom in adulthood with a certain wariness, a backward glance over the shoulder, as if wondering when or how the next blow would fall. Be it nature or nurture, I’m coming to see how I carry the same trait, without even any such clear reason why. The good news is that when such things come to consciousness, we can look at them, and in observing they begin to change.

Along these lines, I remember an irreverent joke my father used to tell:

“Once there was a study to determine which children were optimistic and which were pessimists,” my father would begin. “One day a group of observers came through for a tour. In the first room they visited, a boy was crying his eyes out, even though the room was a virtual toy store, with shiny new bikes and every kind of playing you could imagine.

‘What’s wrong?’ one of the observers asked.

‘Everything’s so nice,’ the boy said. ‘I’m afraid I might break something.’

The group moved on to the next room, where they came upon another boy who smiled and sang as he shoveled his way through a mountain of horse manure.

‘How can you be so happy in all of this mess?’ an observer asked.

‘Easy,’ the boy said. ‘With all this shit, there’s gotta be a pony in here somewhere!'”

I know which boy I have been for most of my life. I also know which one I aspire to be!

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9 Responses to Imagining outcomes

  1. Ha! Great little story and good reminder of how attitude can change everything. Thanks for the post.

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  2. Adam says:

    I’ve never heard it before, but I really like that joke, and while I don’t think I’d be smiling and singing while digging through shit, I certainly hope that I wouldn’t be too afraid of breaking a toy to enjoy playing with any of them.

    Everything comes down to your perspective. As the character Silk says in David Eddings’ series The Mallorean:

    “It’s a failing I have. I’ve looked at the world for quite a few years now and I’ve found that if I don’t laugh, I’ll probably end up crying.”

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  3. I remember my dad used to tell us a version of that story. Thanks for telling it again. Grouchy young men grow up to be grouchy old men. Good post.

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  4. Tish Farrell says:

    Well this is certainly a post that I can identify with, ‘The looking over the shoulder’ syndrome; being fearful even when everything is wonderful. But as you say, once identified, it hopefully can be rooted out. I think I’ll start now. Brad Yates’ EFT sessions on YouTube often include an affirmation that says ‘letting this go at a cellular level’, or ‘letting this go all the way back through my past’. Because sometimes the roots do go a very long way down. I also wish I knew why your posts don’t appear in my reader when I follow you. Must check that WP has not unfollowed you in my subscription list.

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  5. I have only been to two funerals in my 59 years. At both of them I disliked intensely seeing the fake emotions of the fake people who hated the deceased. I wondered why they attended. Then someone told me that funerals are for the living. That made sense, and that explained why those hateful people attended. Thus, I have never gone to another funeral. I send flowers and go to the Zoo.

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  6. Geraldine Mudd says:

    I’m the one shoveling manure, and I must say that after all this horse shit (I’m 71) there is bright, bright illusions cast over all of it.,

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