27 November 2006

Joy And Other Truly Depressing Shit

17% Receiving fruitcake
12% Sled and livestock parked on roof
9% Cranberry caught crosswise in own or others' craw
6% If another fuckin' person says fuckin' Happy fuckin' Holidays
to me, I swear to fuckin' God I'll park this fuckin' Buick Roadmaster
right on his fuckin' gizzard. You fuckin' see if I fuckin' don't!


Hope you have recovered from your birdmeat-induced coma. I binged on stuffing, then attempted to purge by burning off a thousand calories on the HellClimber. Some quick math proved that I had ingested at least thrice that amount in one sitting. The point of that fact pierced the gunnels of my soul, causing darkness and despair to leak in.

The sleet outside the window of my garret continues unabated.

Speaking of which, Monday night it snowed about an inch, which meant that the entire town of Seattle came to a slushing, grinding halt. Buses jacknifed. Cars were abandoned. Bars were filled. Pregnancies were created.

So what better time to revisit one of my favorite subjects - positive thinking! Right now the ghost of Alan Watts is sitting in the porch of my ear, whispering that thought itself is the problem. "For if you're thinking, then you're always living in the world of symbols. Can you dig that, man?" I shall poo-poo him for the moment and turn my attention to the ghost of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale who I have trapped in acetate, viz., on a special four cassette edition of "The Power of Positive Thinking". I've damn near worn all the tapes in the collection threadbare in the seven or so years that I've owned them, and am now looking for a digital replacement set so I can rip it and carry it with me always on my Sansa e260R Rhapsody. (You're searching through your comedy bag for some witty way to use the term "Pocket Peale", aren't you?)

The reason I'm bringing it up is not just because the Happy Holidays are really a bubbling cauldron of hate and despair for most people. I'm also bringing it up because of an article I came across in today's paper about current research on happiness. Oddly enough, some of the research echoed what Peale said in his book over 50 years ago: if you want to experience more happiness, simplify the things that make you happy. The article goes one step further in suggesting a very simple exercise. At the end of each day, write down three good things that had happened and analyze how they had occurred, or rather, what about the event made you happy. It surprised me to find out that an idea that Peale formed through his philosophical and religious dialectic seems to have quantifiable results when put into practice. That's not an easy thing to do when working with something as elusive and subjective as "happiness".

It all sounds very naive and simplistic, I know. But so is Zen. (You knew I was going to get back to Watts, didn't you?) I thought I'd give the exercise a try anyway and see what happens. I'm going to put a notebook in the nightstand and see what I can recall each night before I go to bed. Hopefully I won't discover anything truly negative about myself...like that I become overjoyed at the sight of a well-heeled white Republican falling into an open sewer and dying.

Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes. I'll see if I can track the results somehow in my correspondence. In the meantime, I can say that I am positively gleeful in anticipation of my trip this Saturday to Portland. I'll be seeing our co-sibling John. You remember him, don't you? Gap-toothed smile? Boyish good looks? Swings a mean pipe wrench? We'll be having dinner together Saturday night at an East Indian restaurant called Plainfield's Mayur and doing an early Christmas thing. There's a joke in there somewhere. (Two non-Christian brothers meet to celebrate Christmas in an Indian restaurant. One turns to the other and says - I got nothin'. -Ed.) Let me know if there's anything you'd like me to pass along to him, like perhaps that he has a "brother" named "Greg".