100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #19.

A horse walks into a bar. The bartender immediately calls the Humane Society while wondering how the horse got the doors open in the first place.

Okay, so I may have told that joke incorrectly but there’s an 18% chance you’re still laughing as you Google the correct interpretation of that timeless bit of mirth. Either way, it’s a good start to this installment, right? Okay, it’s a start. Shut up.

#19: Humor.

(Or if you’re Canadian like me… Humour.)

 

My buddy, Rockin’ Ronnie (rock on, brother!) loved to laugh. I mean, he loved it. All my best memories of Ronnie involve his wide-as-Wyoming smile that inevitably followed his constant recycling of the same-old-but-still-awesome jokes, followed by his signature, “Yeah, yeah, yeah!”

Damn it, now I want to cry. I hate irony. Time for some more jocularity!

Apparently the Sumerians were the architects of the world’s oldest recorded joke in 1900 BC: “Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap.”

I know. I too am shocked that Sumerian culture died out.

What about this 1600 BC gag about a pharaoh, said to be King Snofru: “How do you entertain a bored pharaoh? You sail a boatload of young women dressed only in fishing nets down the Nile and urge the pharaoh to go catch a fish.”

Who doesn’t love a good human trafficking joke, right?

And finally, the oldest British joke dates back to the 10th Century and gives us some idea where Monty Python got their inspiration: “What hangs at a man’s thigh and wants to poke the hole that it’s often poked before? Answer: A key.”

Don’t worry, I’m not going to rely solely on comedic history to make my point; I’m going to turn things over to the pros.

She’s smart as a whip (whatever the hell that really means), she’s as gorgeous as someone who isn’t ugly, and most important of all, she hasn’t blocked me (yet) on Twitter so she actually responded to my pathetic pleas for quotes. She’s a sentient being who tells better jokes than The Hook so people pay her to do it, she’s Erica Rhodes and she actually started her entertainment career at age ten as the voice of  legendary humorist and writer Garrison Keillor’s conscience on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion. I won’t tell you what I was doing at age ten but it’s safe to say no one would have put me on the radio to do it for the public.

At any rate…

“I think laughing is a really important coping mechanism for all of us, but especially for people suffering in whatever capacity. And that’s why I try to write jokes about somewhat dark topics, because I believe there is an actual healing component there.

My Dad is in a wheelchair and we have to laugh at that to cope with his struggles and our struggles watching him struggle. He’s one of the funniest people I know. And a hero to me for dealing with an illness with such grace and humor.

I think dark topics are really important to cover in comedy. Literally during the Holocaust people were telling jokes to survive. So humor is actually a method for survival during dark times. That’s why I get nervous when we get too PC with comedy, because sensitive topics are even more important to laugh about.

I sometimes try to explore dark topics or the dark corners of my own psyche because I think there’s a lot of discomfort that needs release there. And if people relate they feel less alone in this universe that can feel really lonely sometimes.”

Ain’t she great? I couldn’t agree more with Erica on the PC thing; I grew up watching Redd Foxx on Sanford and Son, so I truly don’t understand this movement to neuter comedy.

Gail Simone is an award-winning comic book scribe (or as one of my non-Caucasian friends likes to say, “Bitch is more decorated than a Christmas tree!”) best known by non-comic fans for her work on the Birds of Prey comic, the movie version of which is currently setting movie screens on fire all over the world. Her work on Crosswind with Cat Staggs is a thing of beauty.

Anywhoo, here’s her two cents on the power of laughter:

“Aimed properly, humor is our way of spitting at fate, mocking the powerful, and keeping ourselves from getting just a little too insufferable. My advice is, aim well. It’s a big part of what makes life joyful.”

Told you she was brilliant.

No post on this subject would be complete without a few (extremely insightful) words from everyone’s favorite Modern Philosopher and professional humorist, Austin Hodgens.

“Writing has always been my escape. When I was a kid, my stepmother would not allow me to follow my dream of joining the Rebel Alliance to fight the Empire. Writing allowed me to have the adventures I was deprived of by an overbearing parent.

I went to Film School, not Medical School, but I believe that laughter is the best medicine. With healthcare costs today, it’s also one of the few medicines people can still afford.

I love to sit in the audience during a taping of The Nite Show, and listen to the crowd laugh at monologue jokes I’ve written. It makes me feel like I’ve done my part to make life a little more tolerable for people, who just like me, are sometimes struggling to get through the day.”

It can be said that life is the greatest thing that ever happened to the Grim Reaper, so many of us feel overwhelmed by life’s many challenges and look to death for some sweet release from our suffering. But humor can be a life jacket as we feel ourselves metaphorically drowning. Comedians, and even “regular folk” like myself use suffering and pain as fodder while exposing their own vulnerabilities.

And on that note, here’s a screen-grab from my untitled short film that’s sure to make you laugh (and say, “Oh, that Hook!) and cringe simultaneously. No one, especially me, noticed this wardrobe malfunction once in a six-minute segment. But my unintentional dumbassery is your gain.

Posting this pic terrifies me but it’s damn funny and I have no ego to speak of, so…

 

So to sum up: The world can be bleak and dark so try to look for a reason to smile in every situation. It may not be easy or seem appropriate in any way at all, but humor can buy you one more day and who knows what that day could bring?

See you in the lobby, friends…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #20.

I, Robert “The Hook” Hookey, am a people person.

I hope you weren’t drinking coffee, or anything else for that  matter, as you read that opening line – because now it’s no doubt all over your phone, screen or tablet. And you, most likely. But it’s true, after decades as a Niagara Falls bellman, a dad, a husband, a college student, a journalist for a time, and a devoted attendee of countless comic conventions, there’s no way I would’ve been able to survive if I didn’t have a few personal interaction skills.

But…

Just because I’m good at making with the talkie-talkie with my fellow human beings (my daughter loses her sheep when we’re out… anywhere, and I run into someone from some point in my life) doesn’t mean I like it. In fact, if there’s one thing I crave above all else (yes, even that) it’s…

#20: Solitude.

Yes, this entry flies in the face of everything I’ve been touching on so far in this series. Yes, I’ve been extolling the life-sustaining virtues of being a part of this world rather than pulling yourself away from it. Yes, I’m a complicated bellman. (Geez, I haven’t used the word “yes” this much since my honeymoon.)

But the truth is, I’m around people a lot. All. The. Time. In. Fact. With the exception of my walk to and from work, I’m surrounded by humans 99% of the time. I work with hundreds of people. I serve thousands of people every year. No  mater where The Hook turns, he sees people.

Don’t bet me wrong, my wife and daughter are amazing, and while our dog is nuttier than the proverbial fruitcake, she can lift your spirits just by being in your presence.

But as everyone I work with can attest, with the exception of punching the time clock at the end of the day, the best part of my day is when I’m sitting by myself at lunch, lost in thought. Even my dear departed brother-in-arms, Rockin’ Ronnie, understood how important a few minutes of solitude is to The Hook. In fact, check out this exchange between myself and an old hotel superior from just last week while I was enjoying a quiet evening supper break at the casino near the hotel:

JP:  Mr. Hookey, how are you!

THE HOOK:  Well, you know…

JP:  Don’t worry, I won’t keep you. I’m more than familiar with your “eccentricities”.

I’m not so sure I’d call my need for solitude an “eccentricity” but we never really know how our lives appear to others. Unless they’re brutally honest that is. But the truth is, a few minutes and even the all-too-rare day off from work while my family heads out to Toronto for a show, helps keep me sane.

Or as close to sane as I’ll ever get, that is.

Superman got it. We all need a Fortress of Solitude.

 

I’ve lost my father-in-law, Ronnie, my mother, and even a bit of my zest for life the last few years and it shows. I tear at the drop of a hat sometimes, which my daughter refers to as a result of my “dark and twisty” side. Being around friends and family and even some of the less wacky guests I serve helps remind me why life is worth living but being alone with my thoughts (and a newspaper or a movie on my phone) can be just as important.

There’s a fine line between measured solitude and becoming a loner, but you’ve gotta disconnect and recharge those batteries every once in awhile, kids. It could save your life.

See you in the lobby, friends…

(But if you spot me having a meal on my own at a food court somewhere, maybe just let me be, okay?)

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Blue Monday Can Go Duck Itself!

(I promised my kid I’d curse less. But it’s duckin’ hard.)

So anyway, it’s Blue Monday, the name given to a day in January deemed to be the most depressing day of the year. And who do we have to blame for this bullship? In 2005 a  press release from travel company Sky Travel claimed to have calculated the date using an equation that took into account weather conditions and only applied to the Northern hemisphere.

The idea is considered pseudoscience, with its formula derided by scientists as nonsensical, which means Gwyneth Paltrow sacrifices eighty virgins and bathes in their blood on Blue Monday.

Maybe.

(I use pseudo-facts to write my posts.)

So it’s Blue Monday, a day dedicated to  misery and mental suffering, which, coincidentally, can only be alleviated by booking a trip you can’t afford with Sky Travel or some other schmucks.

Screw that.

 

Don’t let Blue Monday get the better of you, my friends. I sure don’t. Here’s why:

 1)  I have IBS and spend several hours a week locked in a bathroom engaged in physical exertion. It has never been fun. Not once.

2)  My IBS has given me a distended stomach so it appears that the only beverage I ever consume is ale.

3)  I’m mostly bald.

4)  As a Niagara Falls bellman I get to slave away for serve travelers from all over the world and every level of Hell.

I cannot stress this enough: serving the public in this day and age is an exercise in the self-mutilation of one’s soul. Most people are great, but there is a small-but-growing-every-day percentage that should be beaten to death with frozen wolverine carcasses. This job will chew you up and spit you out like a piece of fifty cent street meat if you let it.

5)  I walk to work every day. Most of the time in the freezing Canadian cold. And sometimes I get chased by wild animals like horny skunks and half-blind possums and the occasional rabbit. And there are drunks and people who stand in driveways that aren’t theirs and pee on strange cars. (True story, it happened yesterday.)

6)  One of my best friends took his own life during a week that three other souls did the same in the same manner. (But there’s no problem with people plunging into the Falls, according to local authorities.)

7)  I have a bad knee. Granted, it’s from falling off a sawhorse when I should’ve used a ladder… but that’s beside the point.

8)  I once dreamt of writing for a living. But life beat that dream out of me. Now I just dream of waking up every day.

9)  Being a father means you have to hope you’re setting a good example for your kid. You want said child to see you as a paragon of humanity. Who needs that kind of pressure? (But I love my daughter.)

10)  My wife won’t let me eat KFC anymore. I love KFC. See my first-world problem?

And yet, all evidence to the contrary, I’m a happy guy, I swear! So if Blue Monday can’t touch me, you should be golden.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #21.

Death is not to be feared.

Sure, dying can be quite painful if you don’t experience it while in a coma or within seconds, like if you’re slowly crushed under an overturned oxcart or some other equally slow, painful fate.

(Sorry, I just finished the first season of The Witcher on Netflix. It’s far from perfect and it’s no Game of Thrones, but it’s a ridiculously-guilty pleasure.)

But death itself is nothing to be afraid of.

It sucks for those you leave behind, unless they gain some perspective on the whole situation, that is. I would’ve fallen into a seemingly-endless pit of despair if my family and all of you weren’t here to keep me grounded

Personally, I believe death is merely a doorway to the next level. If the Fates are kind we’ll take our last breaths on this plane and find ourselves in a lush field of green beside a riverbank, the warm sun shining on our faces. It won’t be so sunny that you need sunglasses, but enough that it’s not overcast. And it won’t be humid or sweltering (no one should have to go through eternity with swamp ass) but rather just warm enough that you won’t need a sweater or a light jacket.

You’ll walk to a dock that’s been properly treated so the wood doesn’t crack or split where a boat with plenty of room to walk around and stretch your legs on is waiting. I have no idea how long the journey will take but maybe they’ll be a nice buffet laid out. But eventually you’ll see it: The most breathtaking forest ever conceived where everyone you’ve ever loved will be waiting.

Of course, if you divorced several times or had multiple partners things may get messy… But let’s hope not. And I’m not certain if you’ll see everyone you ever loved, like that puppy you dogsat for two weeks when you were ten, or that uncle your mom kept away from you as much as possible (he gave you sips of his beer and let you look at his Playboy collection so you loved the guy, naturally) but the people at the top of your list will definitely be there.

How do I know any of this, you ask?

#21: Faith.

To be clear: I’m not talking about religion, especially the organized type. I’d rather experience Chinese water torture while Mariah Carey Christmas songs blare in the background than spend a nanosecond at a church service. Religion has toppled nations and led to more human suffering than the Trump presidency.

But faith is where it’s at. Faith will keep you going when the walls close in and you doubt you’ll make it through the night. God. Buddha. The Kardashians. Family. It doesn’t matter where your faith comes from as long as it comes from somewhere.

Faith isn’t simply a person or a place; it’s a feeling, one that reminds us that our lives have value and they’re worth fighting for. Always.

See you in the lobby, kids…

You can trust her.  She’s a Doctor.

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself #22.

I think that even though humanity is pretty much tearing itself to ribbons theses days over impeachment, whether or not Trudeau is a douchebag, and the Peloton commercial, humanity can still agree on three things:

  1.  Moving to a new living space can be ridiculously-stressful.
  2.  Working for a living can wear your soul to a nub. (Yes, the metaphor works. Shut up.)
  3.  Cats are evil.

So can you imagine combining the stress of a move with the already-soul-crushing chaos of the workplace? I can, because I’m living it. And so here we are.

#22: Workplace Chaos.

The hotel is in the midst of the biggest renovation since Odysseus decided to turn a Greek child’s hobby horse into a hangout for him and his pals. Among all the other (greatly delayed) projects going on throughout this building we’ve moved into a brand-spanking new lobby that reminds me of the Northern Pikes tune, “She Ain’t Pretty” (She Just Looks That Way).

I’m not suggesting our new lobby is a disaster; it’s bright, shiny and has many smooth, sleek lines and cool features. I wish it was my high school girlfriend.

But like many a high school hookup, we moved too fast and now we’re facing the consequences. Of course, in this case the consequences aren’t a bouncing bundle of joy and full diapers. Instead, we’re dealing with desks that aren’t as user-friendly as possible, darkened corners (like where my desk sits, naturally), construction workers drilling through floors without consulting blueprints and a gazillion other minor issues that when combined, make you want to find another version of yourself in the Multiverse whose life you can co-opt.

Any move has it’s challenges. It takes time to acclimate oneself to a living/work space, and let’s face it, most of us consider our workspace a second living space, even though a workspace drains your will to live rather than enhancing it.

But I  just worked against my own premise, didn’t I?

Please allow me to recover if I can. Serving the public in any capacity isn’t easy to say the least. People can be rude; they’ve actually spit on me. (And I wasn’t ablaze at the time.) People can be sneaky; I caught a guy creeping into the hotel through an employee door yesterday so he could steal a luggage cart – even though he had already requested the doorman fetch him a bellman.

In short, people are nuts.

So trust me when I tell you no one survives for over twenty years in the hospitality industry without being able to process a steady diet of chaos. You even learn to savor the flavor eventually. (Even bad pizza is still pizza.)

I observe. Then I mock.

The other day I sat back at my desk and watched as every manager, administration-level worker, construction worker and even a guest or ten, stood around our new lobby and scrutinized every detail from the placement of flashing ceiling lights to whether or not our luggage carts should be chained up to prevent guests from absconding with them. (Guess how I voted?) Workers were scrambling back and forth, managers and owners were discussing just how much all this aesthetic beauty actually costs (the figures are staggering). People with no authority were ordering others around. There were no evil cats around but it was still mass hysteria dialed up to eleven. The cacophony of voices built to a deafening crescendo and all the while I thought: 

“Ronnie would’ve loved this.”

And he would’ve. Ronnie lived for those moments of complete and utter human madness. We’d sit at our desk and drink it all in like a fine wine. I’d return from a luggage call and he’d be all, “Hook, my brother Hook, you should’ve seen it. So-and-so was down here throwing her weight around, slinging orders like a crazed waitress at a greasy spoon. Three bus tours have shown up at once. It was nuts! I love every second.”

You really do get used to the challenge of surviving wave after wave of interoffice political battles, guests on a tear about the simplest of issues, and every other surprise the universe has in store that you could never see coming. In fact, you learn to see that such situations can help us grow, they can even make us stronger if we process them correctly. 

It’s all a matter of perspective, kids.

Ronnie had the right idea. Until other factors became too much to handle he knew the score and we had ringside seats for the never-ending stream of  hotel donnybrooks.

Ronnie’s gone but the chaos remains.

Thank Dog.

See you in the lobby, friends…

 

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Random Thoughts On A Winter’s Morn.

The hot cleansing water feels good against his skin, washing the grime and sweat away from his weary form.

His body aches as the rigors of age set in once more.

An irrefutable truth dawns : There are fewer days behind than ahead.

But still he walks on.

He walks through the darkness of a slumbering city to reach his destination, its neon lights shining upon him, beckoning him to enter.

He walks the halls of this grand hotel, his long arms pushing a tarnished brass cart across it’s worn carpets, a series of squeaks and knocks the only proof of his presence.

Around him travelers sleep, make lust/love (mostly lust), insert poison into their veins, splash fire and ice against the back of their throats, their lives a mixture of fleeting pleasure and pain.

He gives them little more than a moment’s thought as memories of a fallen friend, one of his best friends, return with the power of crashing waves on the shore.

Ronnie walks beside him.

Always.

And so he walks on, the thinnest of smiles measurable on his weathered face.

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself #23.

It may get a bad rep and even though there are a gazillion different platforms and channels out there now, and nothing to watch at times, television allows us to collectively share experiences that can change our lives and perspectives.

On Saturday, April 11, 2009, a nervous (though you couldn’t really tell) Susan Boyle stood on the stage of Britain’s Got Talent and shared her dream of becoming a powerhouse singer on the global stage.

Simon Cowell rolled his eyes as she swung her hips and gave the world a cheeky grin as she prepared to sing “I Dreamed A Dream”, one of the biggest songs ever produced for the stage.

Piers Morgan adjusted himself in anticipation of a musical disaster.

The audience followed suit.

Everyone waited for yet another live flame-out, as that was once the biggest appeal of these talent shows; we all seemed to enjoy seeing people crash and burn in front of a live audience, didn’t we?

I know it’s unlikely but just in case you haven’t seen/experienced this moment, I’m going to allow you to see the results for yourself.

Well?

 

#23: That Susan Boyle Moment.

I once had a friend, a best friend, who wanted nothing more from life than to be part of a successful rock ‘n roll group that shook the stage to its foundations every night. Ronnie didn’t want his name in lights, he was perfectly content to be a wheel on a bus that traveled from town to town, giving citizens an escape from the tedium of their lives. Rockin’ did indeed rock the stage. He achieved a measure of notoriety; he was a mainstay of the region’s music scene and everyone loved him.

But he never had his Susan Boyle moment. The image of fame he nestled in his heart for a lifetime never materialized. He was a rock star to those of us who knew him best but the world didn’t know his name.

But I do.

Luke Skywalker blowing up the death Star. The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Susan Boyle’s walk in the blinding sunshine of fame. These are moments that can have a profound effect on millions of people simultaneously while touching individuals… individually. Okay, that fell apart fast but let’s move on, shall we?

I often return to YouTube to relive this triumph of the human spirit (and pipes) and I still tear up as I think, “What Ronnie wouldn’t have given for this chance to shine bright.” But I don’t feel sad, I feel grateful for having known Ronnie and his gifts at all.

Fortunately, shows like BGT have shifted their focus to contestants’ triumphs rather than the missteps, thus giving the audience a more positive experience overall. So when you’re feeling subterranean and the light is a distant memory, you can always click on a moment preserved in time, a moment that serves to remind us that one person’s triumph is a victory for all of us.

We all want the same things.

We all dream a dream.

And it doesn’t matter if it comes to life or not, it’s the dream itself that’s worth living for.

So thank you, Susan Boyle of the village, you’ve gotten me though some dark days.

See you in the lobby and the dreamscape, kids…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #24.

What do you get when you mix a holiday tale of two army vets turned mega-successful musical producers, a sister act featuring two of the most beautiful actresses to ever grace the screen, a former general in dire financial straits and some of the most unforgettable songs of all time?

Well?

Fine, I’ll do all the work for you; the result is one of those films your parents made you watch as a kid instead of letting you do something less mind-numbing because their parents did the same thing to them. And now you do the same damn thing to your kids just to erase the scars inflicted on you in childhood. But guess what? Those scars never fade, friends. Nor should they.

The answer, by the way, is White Christmas, the 1954 Paramount Pictures musical that has since become a holiday television staple, an essential part of every radio station’s Christmas song line-up and irrefutable proof that Rosemary Clooney was once one of the most gorgeous creatures on planet Earth rather than the loopy aunt on Roseanne that we all refuse to believe ever starred in that damn film with Bing Crosby that our parents made us watch under extreme duress.

#24: White Christmas.

Everyone of a certain age has seen this flick (even if it was just playing in the background as they were trying to get the hell out of the family room before someone inevitably said, “Come watch White Christmas with the family!”) and while they may not have realized it at the time (I certainly didn’t) it really is one of those things worth sticking around this plane of existence for.

Yes, you’re right, I’ve lost it. But hear me out anyway.

Films made in the Fifties may not have been perfect but they were clean enough to eat off of compared to today’s Hollywood offerings. Can you imagine Bing Crosby screening Cruel Intentions or Brokeback Mountain? Not that these aren’t great movies; but they’d be considered porn to a Hollywood performer of Bing or Danny Kaye’s sensibilities. 

 

But back to my point. And yes, I do have one, thank you very much. White Christmas brings people together to share not just an incredibly well-crafted film, but an experience. This movie is about:

 

The power of friendship. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye become lifelong performing partners after bonding at the end of the war.

Family. Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen are sisters who would do anything for each other, even fake an engagement. (Don’t worry, it makes sense, and it’s funny to see a film where one of the male leads is actually reluctant to pursue a beautiful woman.)

Loyalty. Bing and Danny are vets-turned performers who use their star power to help their old general fill his Vermont Inn when a heat wave hits in the middle of winter. 

The power of raw emotion. Even the most hardened soul will become teary-eyed while watching an iron-willed general addressing his men at the end of the war and when they come out to save him from bankruptcy when Mother Nature proves to be a tougher adversary than the Nazis.

A time when people actually dressed nice. Seriously, pay attention to the clothing in White Christmas; I never see people dressed in suits and dresses unless I’m at a funeral or a wedding. Or court.

Some of my most vivid childhood memories revolve around my family (which consisted of my mother and grandmother) gathering around the ye olde television to watch this film. I really had no clue of the deeper meaning behind what I was watching but it made the women who raised me happy and that was enough. I know a movie, even a holiday classic, can’t solve all your problems, especially problems that make you want to end it all, but it can buy a few hours of peace to catch your breath and sometimes that can be enough.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #25.

Let’s begin with a proverb that has endless variations, beginning in the 13th century, what do you say?

What’s that? You say you didn’t realize this was “The Big Blog of Outdated Poetic Crap” and you’re going back to RedTube? Well, I’ll admit that I can’t compete with such highbrow entertainment (or an equivalent happy ending) but just give me a shot and I’ll offer a full refund if you’re not satisfied.

Let’s begin, shall we? Scratch that, I’m not asking, I’m telling.

For Want of a Nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

According to some eggheads I consulted this proverb “describes a situation in which a failure to anticipate or correct some initially small dysfunction leads by successively more critical stages to an egregious outcome.”

Yeah, I fell asleep halfway through the explanation too. WAKE UP!

 

#25: The Nail

For centuries now people have put their own spin on this little poetic ditty based on their own experiences and understanding of the basic message. Everyone from Benjamin Franklin to the writers of M*A*S*H to musicians and comic book writers have used For Want of a Nail to make a point.

Here’s mine.

None of us truly realize just how important we are to the fabric our own universe. Having my lovely bride in my life has helped me keep the horrors of my childhood memories at bay. My amazing daughter keeps my desire to dream alive. Meeting people from all over the world gives me hope that we’re not going to destroy ourselves some day, in spite of the best efforts of Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump, and a million other political morons.

I can’t imagine what would have happened if I hadn’t been placed at a Zellers department store for a high school internship, or if my wife and I hadn’t consulted a fertility doctor, or if I hadn’t gone to a job fair for a hotel chain where I’d meet a senior bellman named Louie who eventually directed me to the hotel I’ve been working at for twenty years now. Our lives are a series of dominoes in the form of choices and events involving people we encounter, most of whom are more vital to our existence than we’ll ever know.

Take a moment and think hard about your past. I’m willing to bet that you’ll see more than one instance where a seemingly-trivial event or meeting actually changed your life, hopefully for the better. I’m thankful for the nails in my life (like Ronnie, whose life and ultimate end inspired this path I’m trying to follow) and I hope I’ve been a worthy nail for others.

See you in the lobby, kids…

Here’s my favorite variation, naturally.

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #26.

Redemption.

It means different things to different people; to most of us it’s a word we see solely in fiction. “She was a warrior on a quest of redemption for accidentally poisoning her entire tribe of Amazons with the wrong variety of berries in their strudel. She is… Elsa, Warrior princess of Iceland!” I doubt I could find anyone in the so-called real world that is on a genuine quest for redemption.

And that’s why so many of us throw away the precious gift of existence. We’re convinced we can never undo the mistakes of the past and so we strive to “move on”, until the weight of our sins becomes more than some of us can bear.

#26: The Quest For Redemption.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming anyone for feeling burdened by their past; in fact, I applaud anyone who is willing to acknowledge their errors and take ownership of them. I only wish my own progenitors were brave enough to shine in a light on their lives and the wreckage they’ve been responsible for. I sincerely hope that my mother is at peace now but I’m the first to admit that she was never able to accept and understand just how much her mistakes affected those around her.

Being human means you’re going to screw up your life at times. Being a parent means you’re going to screw up the lives of your offspring as well. There is no getting around these truths.

The Big Question is: What are you prepared to do about it? How far are you willing to go?

Okay, technically, that’s two questions. Shut up. And here’s another one, just to really piss you off: What exactly is redemption anyway?  Try wrapping your head around that one, Sparky.

Can a person make up for a lifetime of mistakes with a few acts of kindness?

I’ll be damned if I know, but I do know this: Allowing oneself to be crushed by the weight of one’s errors with suicide is never the answer. No one ever found redemption by taking their own life.

Maybe it’s not about succeeding at atoning for your sins but simply taking that sometimes-painful first step, and then another and another, and so on, on the road to the Land Of Redemption, or whatever you want to call it. Just trying to be better, especially if you know you won’t ever make it, is heroic and worth living for, in my opinion.

What most people don’t realize about giving to others is that it can be addicting; once your heart starts to open you want to replicate that feeling, you get hungry for it.  And it’s the kind of hunger that won’t leave you so large they need to tear down a wall to get you out of bed. Start small, treat people that have been a pain in your ass in the past with kindness. (It throws them for a loop and that can be fun as hell.)

Reach out to co-workers that seem lonely and detached. Give forgiveness where you’ve been denying it. Take a step.

And then another.

And another.

Trust me, it’s worth trying. It may not make the pain go away at first but you’re not really doing it for you anyway. It’s about the bigger picture, my friends.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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