“Oh, it’s not that bad.”
If I had a dollar for every time my Mom said that, I’d be able to afford a really nice vacation in Ireland.
Mom was the eternal optimist. Thankfully, I inherited a hefty portion of her optimistic attitude.
There is a wonderful story about a young man who didn’t realize what a grand, loving childhood he had experienced until he was a young adult.
After work one day, he and some friends were relaxing at a local bar. They were swapping stories about growing up in small towns. Their stories were sweet, charming tales. One of his friends remarked that it was like they had all grown up in Mayberry.
Their parents were consistently kind and supportive. He told his friends that he didn’t realize that his mother had never told him “No.”
She was always positive, supportive and encouraging. Whatever he asked her, she would always reply with a positive answer. He said that he finally figured her out one day when he was rummaging through the freezer for some ice cubes.
He asked, “Mom, do we have any ice cubes?”
She replied, “Yes we do. But they’re not frozen yet.”
Now, that is a positive outlook.
The old, worn-out elevator in our church finally died late last fall. It had worked for decades.
Worshippers with worn out knees and bad backs could always count on the old lift to get them up to the sanctuary. It rarely failed. When it did fail, it never lasted long. Parishioners might have to wait a few minutes, but they were always freed from the old elevator car.
For the past 10 months, we have had to worship in the large Fellowship Hall downstairs. It was cozy, but we adjusted to it very quickly. We all missed our beautiful sanctuary and amazing stained-glass window, but we adjusted.
Our trustees have worked diligently to get the old elevator working. The only repair option for our ancient elevator came from a small company in Florida.
I realize that elevator companies have plenty of ups-and-downs (pun intended), but this little company bent over backwards to help us. They have worked diligently without breaks and often skip lunch… but, still we’re hiking the steps.
It is truly a gross inconvenience for many of our senior worshippers, but they are stalwart, wonderful people. I can just imagine a lovely whited-haired church member saying, “Sure, it takes a while to climb the steps, but aren’t they lovely wooden steps?”
Now, that is a positive outlook.
As I thought about the beauty of looking on the bright side of life, I remembered a sweet song from a brilliantly silly and grossly irreverent, 40-year old Monty Python movie, “The Life of Brian.” If you’re easily offended by religious satire, don’t bother looking it up.
The lyrics are sung to a simple, sweet, joy-filled tune:
Some things in life are bad, they can really make you mad.
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble, give a whistle.
And, this’ll help things turn out for the best… if you always look on the bright side of life.
Always look on the light side of life.
If life seems jolly rotten, there’s something you’ve forgotten.
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you’re feeling in the dumps, don’t be silly chumps.
Just purse your lips and whistle, that’s the thing.
Just whistle, dance and sing – that’s the thing.
There are more words to the original song and the words can be changed to fit almost any situation, but the point is easily made – whistling, dancing and singing can lift our spirits like no other thing.
That ties in to a wonderful old saying, “Do we quit dancing because we get old, or do we get old because we quit dancing?”
Dance on, my friends. Dance on.
Randy Riley is former Mayor of Wilmington and former Clinton County Commissioner.