Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

A Look at the Bright Side

“Always look on the bright side of life.” Anyone of a certain age or taste in humor recognizes those words from the 1979 comic film THE LIFE OF BRIAN. We can’t forget the image of the hapless Brian hanging on a cross, singing the song written by Eric Idle.

As someone who was raised to be ever wary of the cracks in the sidewalk of life, I feel certain parallels—especially now when my healthcare, finances, personal and family future, and national identity feel less stable than usual. I’m not yet hanging, but my feet can’t feel the ground all the time, either. To mix metaphors further, I feel like Captain Hook balanced on the teeth of the crocodile. Everything I read and some of what I hear reminds me to look on the dark side…just in case.

But what did being cynical ever do for me?

Today my husband was sick, so I stepped up to execute the errands he usually enjoys doing. I encountered people I don’t normally see. When I was retrieving the mail from our gang of boxes, a lady behind me said hello and I jumped a mile. I didn’t hear her approach. I’m usually the one at home on the computer. I forget how diverse and bright the world outside can be. I don’t expect a stranger to greet me. The problem is, the smaller my perception of the world becomes, the scarier it is. How can such a tiny, homogenous reality possibly adapt and cope with the world’s constant issues? I forget to believe in the diversity, resources, and beautiful hearts of people I don’t know.

My apologies to the wealth of magnificent people out there. I need to increase the number of idealistic marches I attend.

Of course, when I doubt the power of the people around me, I end up doubting myself, as well. I crawl back into a self-concept reinforced by my first creative writing instructor who said my writing was very good but unsophisticated. I was eighteen. How could I force myself to be sophisticated? I listened to classical music, watched art films, and read novels that explored cutting edge cultural awareness. Nothing seemed to transform me. I’ve felt unsophisticated ever since—sure everyone else understands something I don’t. No wonder I empathize with people diagnosed on the autism spectrum or with learning disabilities. What a curse to be the one who doesn’t get it.

Except I’m wrong.

I’m reading a book by Margaret Atwood at the moment, feeling utterly awed by her deft command of unusual, sparkling description. I don’t write as she does. But that doesn’t mean my writing has no value. I’m the only writer on earth with precisely my perspective. Maybe it’s not as popular or literarily dazzling as Margaret Atwood’s prose, but it’s my voice. I do what I love. Some people I admire, admire me. I can whistle from the cross, look around, and see other hapless folk not entirely unlike me. We make our corners of the world a little brighter. We promote what we love. We like us.

3 comments on “A Look at the Bright Side

  1. Frances Sullivan
    February 9, 2019

    Well, you’ve brought me round to the bright side! Thank you! (I’m tipping an imaginary cap). As for the illustrious M.A., I’m glad she’s here, but am happier knowing Susan – my supportive friend and brilliant wordsmith – is here. By the way, which of hers are you reading? xx

    • Personal Journeys with Gramma
      February 16, 2019

      I’m utterly humbled that I could occupy the same breath as Margaret Atwood. I’m embarrassed to say THE BLIND ASSASSIN is the first of hers I’ve read. It won’t be the last. She’s far fonder of detail than I am, but the depth of her similes and metaphors awes me. The only one I questioned happened when she compared a trail of dog urine in the snow to Braille. Braille sticks out–which is its advantage. Thanks, dear friend, for cheering me. I appreciate you more than you know.

      • Frances Sullivan
        February 16, 2019

        Haha. Love it! Okay, well Cat’s Eye is good as is, of course, Handmaid’s Tale. Her poetry is wild. She’s just prolific – so much out there. And the appreciation is mutual. ❤️

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