“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
– e. e. cummings
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about our dog, Lucy, and a lesson I learned from her one day. Well, apparently, Lucy hasn’t hung up her teaching hat just yet – she had yet another tutorial for me this week.
If I didn’t describe Lucy well enough in my last blog, let me give you a few more details. Lucy is one seriously happy dog. I mean…seriously. That girl LOVES everything. She loves me, she loves my boyfriend Richard, she loves our kids, she loves squirrels, birds, the mailman, the UPS guy, the cats….(ok, that may be pushing it a little – she loves torturing them, does that count?)
But I noticed something else about her the other day that made me smile. Apparently, Lucy’s happiness isn’t just dependent upon someone or something else being around. I was walking through the house and just happened to glance out the window and there stood Lucy in the middle of the yard – not looking at anything in particular, not doing anything noteworthy, just standing there – and that tail of hers was just wagging to beat the band. No one else around, and Lucy was just as happy as she could be. Just because.
I told Richard about it later and said, “I want to be just like Lucy. I want to be so happy that I wag my tail even when nobody’s looking, don’t you?”
He laughed and agreed, the subject was dropped, and we went on about our business. Situation forgotten.
Until a few days later. I was driving along in my car listening to the audio books that I always listen to when I’m traveling anywhere, and I realized that I wasn’t retaining much of what I was hearing. I was just stressed and distracted and not in the mood to try to follow along with a book. So, I ejected the audio book CD and started looking for something else to pop in, when I came across a CD that my ex-husband bought me the other day. Yes, you read that right – my ex-husband bought me a CD. Ok, it was a $1 CD that he saw at Goodwill, but still. It was nice of him to think of me. What was the CD, you ask? New Kids on the Block’s greatest hits. Yup. He remembered that I used to be an NKOTB freak (their last known fan actually – I have a tendency to hold on a little too long), and he thought I’d like it. Up to this point, I hadn’t listened to it yet, but I just decided to go ahead and throw it in the player and see what they sounded like after all these years. And boy, was I glad I did. I was immediately transformed back to the late 80s/early 90s and I still remembered just about every word to every song. Before long, I was signing at the top of my lungs like nobody’s business – and with a goofy smile on my face to boot.
That’s when I noticed the car that had pulled up beside me at the red light.
And what did I do? *sigh* I turned the music down, wiped the smile off my face, and sat staring straight ahead until the light changed.
Now, what the heck did I do that for?
Isn’t that dumb? What’s wrong with wagging my tail when I thought no one was looking, you know? I was just so darn afraid of how I looked to someone else. Why are people like that? It’s just plain silly. I don’t even think I gave it much thought at the time – I think it was just instinct to pull it together and look like a decent, non-crazy, non-NKOTB fan girl and make myself ‘presentable’ once I knew I had an audience.
I so need to stop that.
I’m like that with pictures too. I am the queen of “Wait – don’t take the picture yet, I’m not ready.” Or, “Ew, that one looks like crap, let’s take another one.” My family just loooooves that too, let me tell ya. And my boyfriend Richard and I couldn’t be more different when it comes to that kind of thing. He is crazy about the candid photos – the ones that no one knew were coming or that we weren’t exactly ‘ready’ for. Me? I think I look like a doofus. Especially the pictures where I’m laughing.
See this picture? For some dumb reason, I never posted this picture on Facebook or had it framed. I wasn’t “ready” when the picture was taken. Instead, I posted the version where we were standing up straight, both looking at the camera, smiling, with just one arm around each other. I even have it framed and sitting on my bookshelf at home. But this one? This one was just sitting on my phone as one of the ‘mess ups.’ I ask myself now, “What the heck were you thinking, woman!?” I mean, look at that picture. My daughter is all snuggled up to me and I’m laughing. I think I had told her to stand closer just before the picture was snapped, so she bear hugged me being silly.
Good grief, Me. Get it together. *These* are the memories you want to hold on to.
Or, how about this one? We were trying to take a ‘selfie’ just before we had gotten all dressed up to go to the theatre together. It took about 30 shots before we finally got the ‘right’ one – you know, the one where we’re both smiling sweetly and looking straight the camera. This funny, goofy one where I was laughing so hard my eyes disappeared was never posted. This shows so much more of our personalities than the one that I did deem ‘post-able.’ Kelly being silly, me laughing like a dork – this is ‘us.’
But I was just so afraid of it not looking ‘right.’ Not looking good enough. Not being posed and ‘perfect.’
Silly, silly me.
So, today, I ask you this – are you like me? Do you make sure the picture looks ‘just right’ before you take it? Do you hold back on laughing so that you don’t like an open-mouthed hyena? Do you stifle your happiness so that you look decent and presentable to strangers that don’t even matter? Do you only publicly post the pictures where you’re smiling perfectly and everything is in order?
Or are you like Lucy? Do you express your joy, no matter the circumstances…laugh until you cry when you see the ones you love…stay so happy that you wag your tail even when you’re alone? And for Heaven’s sakes, not stop just because someone is looking?
Well, here’s my advice. Be like Lucy.
We only get one go-around, you know? Just one. Don’t waste it. Wag your tail, people. Just wag it.
Life sure is a heck of a lot better that way.
Thanks for yet another lesson learned, Lucy dear.
Yup, I think we all want to be like Lucy. We just let our human tendency to hide our vulnerabilities rule our world. I have done the exact (as in e-x-a-c-t-l-y) same thing while driving in the car, singing to my Sara Bareilles CD at the top of my lungs, air-strumming my guitar at the red light, until I see someone approaching through the side view mirrors. As if I am not worthy of sharing my take on the world, however out of tune it may be 😉
I just watched a TED talk today by Brene Brown about becoming more vulnerable. I suspect that the message I learned from this talk may have paralleled that message spoken through Lucy’s tail.
We can’t compartmentalize our emotions. Suppressing the emotions that go along with being vulnerable can’t be separated from the joy and happiness that we want to shine. Sing in the shower, dance in the street, play your guitar for everyone to hear (I have to work on this one in particular). Become vulnerable. You will be more authentic and allow you to experience all that life has to offer, wagging tail and all 😉 Great post!
Even greater comment!
Thanks so much 🙂