Yesterday morning, when I first awoke, I set myself a goal: to find as many moments of holiday happiness as I could that day, no matter where I walked. No matter what I saw. No matter whom I met or how many people I passed along the way.
But I next reminded myself that the particular way that day would be somewhat unfamiliar to me. My kind and loyal chauffeur offered to take me Christmas shopping. I’m not much of a shopper at any time of year, but yesterday being the twenty-first of December, I figured that the stores’ aisles would feature a freeway’s worth of carts speeding at up to twenty-five miles per hour, bumping the fannies of folks who dared to block a certain lane while searching for that perfect present. As well, I imagined a few parking lot fender benders, agitated holiday elves exchanging insurance information, all the while staring off toward a particular shop’s wide windows, hoping that last techno-toy hadn’t yet been snatched by a competitor.
Holy manicotti! I woke up that morning of the twenty-first hugging optimistic intentions, but after a trip around the kinks and curls of my mind, I began to feel shaky and unsure of myself, as if I were yet asleep and unwilling to face the sunrise.
The script I’d created somewhere far behind my eyes, I realized, might make a decent horror movie. But where inside that unnerving story, I asked myself, might I enjoy a day filled with contentment and peace of mind if I’m to be surrounded by a frenzied herd of anxious consumers? Could I achieve my goal against such overhwelming odds? Might I discover holiday happiness in a parking lot full of frantic elfenfolk? I further considered the distinct possibility of acquiring a permanent, cart-shaped dimple in my otherwise pristine fanny and decided that such a wound would be unfair to an old man already scarred by life’s inevitable battles with oneself.
And then there’s to mention the fact that crowds leave me feeling closed into a tight corner and in need of enough free air to breathe in deep until my lungs fill like two balloons.
AVT’s Conscience Interrupts
No, Mr. AVT! No, you cannot find happiness if you imagine calamity before you leave the house. Remember all that writing you did just a few days ago about positive attitudes and starting out on the right foot? Have you forgotten what you said in those two articles?
Or worse yet, didn’t you mean what you wrote?
Try this. Remove the suit of armor you’re wearing. That’s right, get naked. No one’s watching, and no one cares. Now, allow the breeze to blow against your skin. Close your eyes and pay attention as the sweat evaporates and thus cools your vulnerable body. This is what it means to be human. You are indeed a human being, although you can — by force of stubborn will — deny your humanity and choose to see others as obstacles, which is tantamount to considering people as your enemies.
Or, by that same force of will, you are free to shed your defensive posture, bury your suit of armor, cross what you once perceived as the field of battle, shake hands with your compatriots, and join the club that requires no dues.
Those racing carts are pushed by enthusiastic people, people who are searching for gifts that might please the people they love. Can you see them smile when the gift they hold seems to match the friend or relative they’re thinking about? Can you hear the concern in their voices as they discuss the people they love? Are you listening?
And just who in that parking lot that you imagined feels frantic? Are you there to watch out for happiness, as you promised yourself, or are you too busy anticipating a fender bender that may never happen?
One more thing, Ebenezer AVT, before I leave you to yourself: Your fanny is as old as the rest of you, so it’s hardly pristine. Should someone’s shopping cart nudge your right or left cheek, I suggest letting that nudge tickle you there. If you think hard enough about what’s happening, you just might enjoy the experience. Remember when you were young, when your derriere was as smooth and tight as a peach? Back then I believe you would have given a lot to feel such a titillating touch.
Conscience, you make some good points. Yes, I remember what I wrote about adjusting my attitude, and stepping out on the foot that will lead me toward the greatest amount of pleasure.
The truth is that I can enjoy the refreshing cheerfulness of people during this holiday season only if I look for it. If I fail to open my eyes wide enough, then individual people can easily become a single, boisterous crowd. Better to listen to what people are saying to each other than to back away and so hear only noise. At this time of year, if I train my ears to hear happiness passing through the air, I’m likely to hear people greeting each other with wishes for a happy holiday.
Ebenezer AVT Enjoys Himself?
I should earlier have said that yesterday morning I awoke, set myself a noble goal, became possessed by the ghost of a crank named Ebenezer, paid heed to a fearsome apparition who resembled me, then reawakened a new and startled man.
Startled at first only because I found myself naked, and on inspection, in possession of a far less than pristine fanny.
Startled a second time, because nowhere — not even in the dusty corners of my chambers — could I find my suit of armor.
And startled thrice by the buoyant air of pleasure that filled my heart and swelled my gray-haired head.
Three startling occurences while I slept inside the cynical side of my mind.
Three. Is that biblical? Or is that evidence that Charles D. still wanders the netherworld, free of chains and generous with his good advice?
Whatever. Let it be.
Yesterday, after I awoke that second, wondrous time, my kind chauffeur told me that my eyes sparkled with apparent joy, and my voice nearly erupted with positive emotion.
We went Christmas shopping. My chauffeur parked the limousine. Long and luxurious though the vehicle is, and tight though was the parking slot, she survived without a scrape. I lept out from the passenger side and enjoyed a hearty, ho-ho-ho kind of laugh. Which evidence of happiness proved itself contagious.
As we walked toward the nearest shop, its windows aglitter with Christmas lights, not one, but several people addressed me with extravagant wishes for a Merry Christmas. I discovered that an unfamiliar spirit of delight inhabited my heart. I asked my chauffeur if we might not pick up our pace. I could hardly wait to enter the shop and grasp the handle of the first available shopping cart.
And yes, dear readers, I halted my voyage mid-aisle and bent a slight way over at the waist.
The nudge, or should I say the tickle, felt so good that I wanted to ask her to do it again.
Pristine or not, this old man owns sensitive parts.
Tickled or not, after all that Christmas shopping, I found myself in need of peaceful atmosphere. And so I and my chauffeur took a stroll through the woods.