Recently, a chronically mopey person asked me “Why are you so cheerful all the time?” It was stated like a criticism. And it got me thinking.
Several years ago, I was in a serious car accident. I was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. A young girl with a two-week old driver’s license lost control of her car and hit me head on.
I didn’t walk away from it; it took me two years to walk without canes. Even with extensive rehab, that collision changed my life. I could no longer go hiking. I could no longer dance Flamenco. I have arthritis in every bone that was broken.
Around that time, my best friend Ruth died of MS. She had been battling the illness since she was 14.
This was a devastating, life-altering time in my life. I mourned my friend deeply. I lost a lot of the physical agility that defined me. It was tempting to wallow in self-pity.
I had a choice. I could succumb to the darkness. And sometimes I did. But then a voice started in my head.
Be grateful that you lived through the accident. Be grateful that it didn’t disfigure your face. A young man in the other car went through the windshield. You didn’t.
Be grateful that you can walk without a cane now. It could have been so much worse.
As I grow older, I have joined the club that enthusiastically bitches about “yet another damned thing” that happens to you as you age.
But it is good-natured bitching. Because we in that club are grateful to be growing older. We are here to bitch about it. So many of our generation aren’t.
I’m cheerful because I’m here to live another day. It’s as simple as that. And if my being cheerful, and funny, and maybe even a bit silly can make another person smile, then we’re all better off.
Happy Thanksgiving to my American Friends! I'm grateful you read this blog.
Postscript: Another version of “Why are you so cheerful” that I receive occasionally is “Why don’t you write something serious instead of all those humorous books.” Again, this is stated like a criticism.
My answer is simple. Of course I could write more serious fare (and in fact, I have. See my award-winning short stories, such as Hook, Line and Sinker.) But truly, there are sufficient sources of dismal fiction and alarming news in the world. I would prefer to bring smiles to readers’ faces.