This is the last post for 2015 since the College will be closed next week. It’s hard to believe that the year has gone by so quickly.
As we close out one year and look towards the next, I can think of one piece of advice that will help us do both well: Spread joy wherever you are.
Sometimes it seems that we are surrounded by complainers, shamers, accusers, and just plain old Debbie Downers. (Sometimes all we have to do is look in the mirror to find all of them.) Although there is a lot that needs fixing in the world, I’m not sure that people have to be mean to make those changes.
Since there’s enough negativity right now, be the person who doesn’t participate in that. Instead spread joy. Be the person who makes people feel better instead of worse. Be the person who finds the good in others, even your opponents. Be the person who’s slow to anger and quick to forgive. Be the person willing to listen. Smile when you’re made to wait. If the waiter or salesclerk makes a mistake, care about their feelings as well.
Just spread joy.
Yesterday at the Y, I glanced in at an exercise class on my way to the track. In the middle of the young people dancing and throwing air punches was a man at least fifty years older than anyone else in the class.
Now he was no superhuman specimen. When the other folks jumped in place, he did a bizarre little step that made him look like a robot with fried circuits. But as I walked on to the track, I realized that this man was my hero.
This is how I want to be when I am old. (And considering how often people ask me when I’m going to retire, that stage is not too far off.) I want to be the person who joins the aerobics class and doesn’t worry about how I compare either in appearance or skill to the other people in the class, as long as I get my work out. I want to be the person who tries new things, learns new skills, and still makes a contribution.
Of course, there is only one sure way to be that person (assuming that I am granted the time and the health). And that is to be that person now. If I’m afraid to take chances now, I can’t imagine that I’m going to suddenly wake up the day after I’m retired ready to do so.
A wise person once said to think of the person you want to be and then start doing the things that person would do.
It’s simple advice, but not easy. Still, it’s essential if we want the next stage of our lives to be different from the present one.
A few years ago, a study came out that stated that singing in choral group was good for your mental health. I liked the idea, but I didn’t go out and join a group because (1) I am an introvert and the thought of singing in a group horrified me and (2) I am a horrible singer.
Still, music is a great stress reliever, and the lack of skill doesn’t mean that people like me can’t share in its benefits.
With the internet, we have constant access to music. On a stressful day, I’ll go to YouTube, find a classical channel, and allow Bach or Mozart to calm me down.
But sometimes the passive reception of music is not enough. So I sing. Loudly. And badly in my car. A year or so ago, my car stereo stopped talking to my iPhone. So while I was trying to get the problem fixed, I was without music. I soon decided that, although my commute is short, I need the ability to sing along with Snow Patrol, Bruce Springsteen, and Beth Orton when the mood strikes. Luckily, I need musical therapy the most on the drive home when it’s dark. Other drivers can’t see me, mouth open wide and hands hitting the steering wheel as if I’m the drummer in the band.
I also sing at the piano. Regular readers of this blog know I took up the piano a couple of years ago. I am not making much progress, but I’ve found plunking out a song is one of the best stress relievers out there. It makes me concentrate, and for a while, there’s nothing but black and white piano keys.
So don’t worry about your skill or lack of. Enjoy music today. You’ll be happier for it.