(Photo Contributed by Marlena Groomer)
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, And that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”
There are no truer words than the ones expressed above. Facts are facts but reality is certainly subjective (ie, based on your personal viewpoint) so a sense of humor is vital to our acceptance of it. Reality, just like emotions, are not fluid and it’s interesting in how they are connected. The way we feel affects our reality and our view of reality affects how we feel. Since it’s subjective, best to be creative and innovative in modifying our perception as the circumstances attempt to modify us.
Jason, remember the trip Arizona. I swear that I was so close to snapping with every obstacle thrown our way. My only option was to laugh every crazy step of the way since it was like a poor remake of “plains, trains and automobiles”. I certainly got tired of making the most out of every situation but I had three choices: Cry (not good enough reason and what’s that solve); lose my temper and unload on the poor saps who caused the problems (why destroy someone’s day who probably could least afford to have that happen and what’s the point); or just joke and laugh through it (even though there was no good reason). A sense of humor allowed me to stay focused on what was important – get you to where you needed to be and where you wanted to be. Wine is no longer an option to escape nor was it ever a cure. How I grew up is a big reason why I chose this approach.
Here is a sociology history lesson. Fantasy and dreams were an escape for the great generations of World War II and the one following because there was not a family that didn’t have or know someone close to them that hadnt served and/or died in that conflict. Heck our baseball players served during the war including Ted Williams who was a Marine fighter pilot. My parents were old enough to remember growing up during “black outs” in fear of Japanese coastal attacks and sacrificing due to “rationing” because of the war effort. Thereafter the next generation dealt with the Cold War and bomb shelters along with the wars of Korea and Vietnam. Of the last two, there was not a lower to middle class family who didn’t have a member or friend who served and/or died while serving as actual “boots on the ground” of that conflict (ie, my dad and uncle Sam, who actually volunteered to fight rather than need to be drafted). Those who died were heroes along with those who lived because it changed their lives and that of their families.
So the “nonsense” and “fantasy” that were escapes from these harsh realities? In my family’s case, it was simple: movies, musicals, comedy, and music. “Sound of Music”, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Funny Girl”, “I Love Lucy”, Bob Hope, Elvis, The Beatles, Motown, etc., were as part of my upbringing as Catholicism and caries over to this day. Example: I recently told Jason how my mom used to wake me up early in the morning for “dance time” which was essentially having to dance with her to whatever was playing on her stereo. Although “nonsense” at the time, it’s what she needed (me too) at the time to start her day to escape “reality” and I cherish those silly memories. Just anything with a better ending to provide hope for our eventual outcomes. My extended family growing up used anything that moved us to sing, laugh, dance or cry, and it was embraced on a daily basis – boys picture aunt Irma leading that charge. Did I ever mention I’ve had a great life!
Another thing I want to share about those generations. There was a common response generally thrown around by the era of my parents and theirs. If pouting, whining, and complaining about something stupid and close to tears about it, the words tossed out were “I’ll give you something to cry about” or the question “do you want a good reason to cry?” It never made sense since I already thought I had a good reason and if I didn’t, why did I need one?
Here’s my guess as to their rationale. Because of those wars and the frequent hardships created by them, it was hard to justify crying over anything less than having someone you love leave for war, come back safely from war, or never returning from war. Growing up as a whole, my family shed tears (excluding ones associated with marriage) when loved ones moved away, returned, or passed away. My grandparents were the type to always put on a brave front and the only time I remember my grandmother crying was when she recalled the memories of her oldest son who died in his twenties or the reasons above. My grandfather was the same: when my grandmother died, and once more when I broke down in his arms at my dad’s funeral – funny he kept trying to stop my tears by telling me to be a man while he couldn’t control his own. My dad cried when I told him his father died and later when my mother died, even though they’d been divorced well before that. My mom cried whenever her sister Irma left and came back, during the happy endings of old movies and musicals she watched with me, and when her brother died. Funny they rarely cried during the medical battles that took their lives no matter how painfully excruciating and their dignity should be a source of inspiration and pride in that you carry their Dicochea’ name and blood. Other than that, any suffering measuring less than an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 was open to healthy “nonsense”, “fantasy”, and “humor”.
So now I’ve walked through what has been a challenging year and maybe you wonder why I act with so much humor and without the drama one would expect? Simple! For the way I was brought up detailed above and not choosing to hide from those challenges in ways I used to before. In addition, I’ve added “Stripes”, “Animal House”, “Blazing Saddles”, “Mad About You”, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, U2, Chris Rock, etc., to what was earlier provided to me. I’ve found a simple harmony by escaping with the simplistic things.
Finally, during this recovery I’ve rediscovered the strength that was given to me by my family. Maybe beaten up a bit but not broken! I was raised that “big boys” and “men” don’t cry but that’s not true. I just kind of evaluate things using the objective 1-10 scale and if under an 8, then handle it differently. I’ve learned that if I find myself filling with anger, sadness, sorrow, stress, grief, or frustration, and the causes measure under an 8, then I replace it with something more remarkable like kindness, love, generosity, song, hidden inspiration, laughter, and most importantly humor. It works for me and if you find yourself with similar dilemmas, rest assured I’ll be there to help you out if you can’t do it on your own! Remember that we don’t have all the time in the world nor does “forever” last as long as it used to, so make the most of all of your current “reality” and sometimes, don’t be so serious about it!