Showing and Telling

sprinklers
A Summer Prelude

More than likely, every single one of you reading this is a writer or has been a writer at some point. As such, it is likely that every single one of you has heard the advice: “show don’t tell.”

But here is my thought for today… showing is a photograph. Showing is a painting or a movie or another visual art form.

Writing, though, is for getting into the brain. In no other median can an idea or thought be represented so clearly, so absolutely. Sure, there are language barriers… the very idea of loss of meaning between writer and reader… but there is a pureness that is allowed in this form of communication that is not quite has well represented in the visual forms.

I have always loved taking photographs. There is a way that I can capture sunlight colored through a sprinkler’s rain that I cannot quite catch merely with words.

But I can tell you with my words what I was thinking when I took the photograph. I can tell you of the feeling of joy, a kind of heated pressure in my chest to see the sprinkler in the sun. I can tell you how I felt an anticipation for summer mixed with a little bit of wonder as my five-year-old ran through that freezing cold water.

I am able to describe how my contentment felt like a warm blanket of sunshine on my shoulders; and how during those moments I knelt on the wet grass, moisture seeping through the knees of my jeans, lightness permeated the air and happy floated by.

That is power, my friends.

That is beauty.

Relentless Pursuit of Happiness

Pursuit of Happiness handed down from our forefathers...
Pursuit of Happiness handed down from our forefathers…

Happy. Happiness. Being content in life. Even when we are not content or are not happy, we wouldn’t dare admit such a thing on a blog or a website. Blog posts are how to be happy, how to be content, how to find peace and contentment. Self help books are about the same thing. Websites dedicated to mindfulness, meditation, yoga, peace and happiness. So much happiness.

But.

Those things. They exist because an amazing amount of people… like in most of the population… are not all happy and content; yet, always, we attempt to get to that place.

At first glance, this is pretty self explanatory. Who wants to be unhappy? Who wants to be miserable?! Not me, which is the purpose of rethinklifeproject. I want to figure out why I am miserable and write it out because I can, because perhaps others will find sparks of familiarity and not feel quite so screwed up when confronted with my screwed up self.

There are a lot of us out there. And the unhappiness continues, even with all the self help and the relentless pursuits of happiness.

Example:

I went to Albertsons yesterday. For those not of the northwest United States region, Albertsons is a grocery store. I had picked up my pizza at Papa Murphy’s and was at the grocery store for a bottle of wine and a “fancy” beer for the husband. Those two items were the only two items I purchased. The lady checking me out (tall, robust, in her late 40s) appeared to be greatly affronted by my purchase. She asked for my ID. Yeah yeah yeah. It’s the law that you have to be older than God to not have your ID checked, but, I will tell you, I look much much much older than 21. Much.

She did it because she was being ornery. She looked at my ID, looked at me, looked at my ID again.

I will repeat, I AM MUCH OLDER THAN 21.

She was being mean. Or ornery. Or unpleasant, or who knows what… but not nice.

I know when someone is not being nice. I think we all do on some level. You walk into a grocery store, let’s say, and suddenly your irritated, almost angry though moments before you were in a fine mood. You get your bread, and as you are walking out of the bread aisle you run into a woman with her hair perfectly fixed and her nails perfectly done, and you realize that she was the one that you cut off in the parking lot. She is glaring you daggers. She wants to take your throat out with her perfectly white teeth.

Moments before, you had no idea she was standing there, you just felt the effect of her hating you. On some level you had picked up on the woman’s emotions towards you. You knew before you actually knew, that she was being a bitch to you.

Humans have this talent. When we are unaware of this talent, there is a lot of bad mojo going around unchecked (think of a bus full of grumpy people; walk on that bus, instant bad mood). When we are aware… well, then we are just aware that everyone else is in a shite mood and we have to work to not be in one as well.

Anyway. Back to my story. The cashier lady. She thought my buying alcohol at noon on a Tuesday was a great offense. Who knows why, I didn’t much care or think about it. Instead, I walked away muttering under my breath about her sure being friendly (sarcastic tone implied).

And then I paused. Literally. I stopped walking for a moment as I was leaving the grocery store.

Light bulb.

I have been writing this little blog for a couple of days now. I have talked about misery and about unhappiness and about feeling like I was dying.

This woman likely felt all those things.

I almost went back and asked her if she was miserable in her life.

I didn’t.

I am not that… yeah, I don’t even know the word for someone that could turn and around and ask a stranger that question. So, I don’t know for sure that she was miserable in life, but let’s say she likely was, and then I started looking around.

The lady at the bank who scowled. Miserable.

The guy at Big 5 asking me listlessly if I needed help. Miserable.

The dude in the huge black truck riding my ass as I go five over the speed limit.

Yeaaah. Ok. He probably was just a dick.

My point in all of this?

I don’t really know. Is there comfort in knowing that everyone around you is miserable? I suppose in a way. What it does do, however, is explain the multi-million dollar business of self help and therapy.

We are all miserable.

But why?!