In the past I’ve written a few times about what I call “the good life,” and pretty much that is what this column is supposed to be about. What’s good in our lives and in our hearts. Our memories and our future. And just when you think you can’t stand it anymore, what’s good about me, you, yourself. So easy to be negative these days and seemingly so in style. But look around. There really is good all around you if you just take the time to notice it. It takes more work, more effort to find it sometimes, but that is only because it is so easy to find fault, the negative, the down side.
So, life isn’t treating you fair? Think again and go deep. Hey, there’s a positive thought right there. You can think. It may be a lost art, it may be something to wish we have grown somewhat unaccustomed, but it can be done. Think about your life, your hopes and dreams. Maybe things didn’t turn out as you planned in your youth, but you’re here now. Make the best of it. For example, A naval engineer named Richard Jones was trying to make a meter designed to monitor power on battleships. He was working with tension springs at the time and happened to drop one. Voila!
The SLINKY was born. I think his failure turned out pretty well for him.
Ruth Wakefield, owner of the Toll House Inn was baking a batch of her famous chocolate cookies. She happened to run out of baker’s chocolate. She broke up a bar of sweetened chocolate into small bits expecting them to melt and the chocolate chip cookie was born. Similarly things like potato chips and silly putty were invented either through frustration or as a by-product. These are pretty insignificant, but then, the pacemaker and even penicillin were not the intended product either. See? The veritable silver lining which started as the fly in the ointment.
So many times and maybe even too often for our personal taste, what we get out of life is not exactly what we want. Maybe there’s a plan there. Something out of our control, Call it a divine power or whatever you’d like, but there does seem to be a force that directs us to what we need to know or to learn, or for that matter, to have and to hold. Don’t you think there’s a reason you didn’t marry your high school sweetheart.
Or maybe you did. There is an old movie, The Strawberry Blonde, with James Cagney, Rita Hayworth and Olivia De Havilland that deals with this subject exactly. If you don’t know the movie I recommend it very highly, but if you do, you can easily see that Cagney’s character is so much better off with the wife he ended up with as opposed to the one he thought he wanted. It worked out for the best, as life usually does. Whether we know it or not.
So often, TOO often in fact we take things for granted. Our life itself, our freedoms are products of the past coupled with happenings of today. But if you take the time to think past your problems, relate to others, give some aid and comfort to someone less fortunate, it becomes pretty easy and rather rewarding. Kind of a feel good moment when all around you is turning to rot. How can you focus? How can you accomplish this? Too many ways to mention here, but a few come to mind. Don’t take me the wrong way here, but sometimes being a little self-centered is a good thing. If you can look at the guy sitting under a tree on a 90 degree day wearing everything he owns and has some bottle and cans in a shopping cart, you can bet that you are better off than he. Learn to appreciate what you have, rather than want for more. Remember the old soulful song by William DeVaughn that said “Though you may not drive a great big cadillac…just be thankful for what you’ve got.” (This was later covered by Curtis Mayfield.)
So, okay. What is this leading up to? Simplicity. Getting back to basics. Sure, I normally write about wine here and I am obviously not a sommelier, nor am I a connoisseur. But a simple thing like a glass of wine, good wine, in a reasonable price range can add to a mundane day. A good recipe can add some spice and I have put up a few of those too. But more to the point, look around. We have been given a beautiful planet with so much good all around. All the niceties. But if you don’t take the time to enjoy them, to savor all the flavors life has to offer you have missed out on so much. Don’t let negativity rule your life or burden your soul. You have problems, of course. We all do. But in the end, I’ll take mine over anyone else’s because they are in fact, mine, my own doing. Take responsibility.
Wine helps of course, as does good food and family. But the idea of a good life, of THE good life starts from within and works its way outward. It’s a glow that you never notice or a smile you don’t realize you have. It can be a twinkle in your eye or a spring in your step. Just know, you’ll get through this whatever it is. And you’re not alone. There’s a world of strength and companionship out there just waiting for you. So get a glass of wine and a salami sandwich. Throw some olive oil, lettuce and tomato on it and enjoy. That’s what it’s for!