Farmers’ almanac

I read the weather forecast and despite the gloom, felt good about living in the Pacific Northwest again. The mild winters, the sing-song pattern to the forecasts: rain changing to showers, showers changing to rain. Heavy rain tapering off before another system moves in to bring more rain, heavy at times.

I walked out front in my socks and listened to the rain in the dark, a pitter patter like static, calming. It made me want to curl up inside it, to bed down. The sound of tree frogs singing, the emerald look to the lawns. The dreariness made poets of us all. Made us feel, if only a feeling of dread.

And it made me think that you can train your mind to feel good about anything. Like the colonoscopy I’m getting tomorrow morning. There was no need to despair about that! I pictured myself donning the tie-in-the-back hospital bib, clapping my hands, cheering on the team as I climbed onto the table, let’s get to work!

Maybe this was the key to happiness in fact, how we choose to feel about our lives. (If feeling in fact were a choice.) Maybe we did have some degree of choice through our own personal narrative, and that’s where attitude comes in.

You can choose your attitude and there’s scientific proof that a positive attitude can lead to more successful outcomes—to lower blood pressure, happier marriages, and more profit for large corporations. That’s what the consultant said when we went through a team-building exercise at work and each of us got lapel pins that said “attitude.” You could choose to be positive, to turn that frown upside down. To buck it up, and get on with it!

The consultant was a former professional football player in the NFL, a large black man with glasses in a suit named Eric. Eric told the story of the first time he played on national television, Monday Night Football, what happened when the coach put him on his first play. Because he was a wide receiver, Eric’s sole purpose was to catch passes and run. He knew the ball would be thrown his way, but Eric was so nervous being on national television for the first time he kept telling himself “don’t drop the ball, don’t drop the ball”—and so when the pass came to him that’s exactly what he did, he dropped the ball. Now if Eric had had a more positive attitude he might have told himself “catch the ball” instead, but he hadn’t gone through the positive attitude training yet because he was a professional football player back then and not a corporate consultant.

What we took away from this, with our lapel pins, was to not dwell on what could go wrong but instead focus on making the play. On winning. To set our attitudes to “go” mode.

My therapist suggested that with my resistance to AA and the “higher power” bit that maybe I explore psychoactive drug treatment to shake things up a bit. Like for a disintegration of self. My 12-step sponsor recommended ketamine therapy and I talked about it with my therapist and ultimately called bullshit on myself which felt clarifying and real and cost me nothing. Why am I considering spending thousands of dollars on psychedelic experimental drug treatments to lower my resistance to AA when the truth is I want neither? Am I so over-privileged and deluded I’m creating my own artifice? So she gave me a website for a place that does breath work at $80/hour and I think I’ll call about that instead.

The thing about us people is we’re either not able to see what’s needed when it’s right in front of us, or we’re constantly wandering off-course in search of the wrong thing.

I think I’m happiest in the early morning stepping out front for a sniff of fresh air, like my dog. There’s a lot to take in with that, and it really can change your attitude. No lapel pins needed. No having to read what other people think to make you think the right way. Let me be with the tree frogs, they seem happier to me. Happy enough to sing in the dark, happy for the rain.

Categories: inspiration, writing

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23 replies

  1. I bet if you hung around a college campus long enough, you could score some shrooms for $20… have a psychoactive experience on your own. Although that seems counter to the whole point of AA. A internal conversation I seem to have monthly is whether I should try THC to reduce my Tourette symptoms, but probably, really, I just want to get stoned because I haven’t been intoxicated in seven years. That type of corporate motivational training really annoys me. It’s like at an old job when my boss told us all that we were expected to smile at any customer we saw. No one wants to see me fake a smile.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha sho nuff on the mushrooms Jeff. I think they’re growing in our back yard even but gosh, I’m not into that so much these days. I am curious about the work that’s resumed in that area but at the same time feel I’m just maybe over-exposed to all that too and swept up in the buzz of it so to speak. I get you on the TS and THC thing too and can relate to that. I’m doing the breath work instead and in search of the ever elusive natural high as it were. Corporate training like that cracks me up, how much I used to drink that kool-aid.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good luck with your colonoscopy. I hope it’s routine because of your age and not because there is a specific problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed the attitude propofol left me in after a gastroscopy.
    May you be as lucky.

    Re AA, I’m of the view that nothing works for everybody.
    But I’m also of the opinion that we are all doomed if we smother all the pessimists.
    So don’t listen to me.
    If you’re lucky, some part of yourself knows the way.
    Woof Woof Sniff Sniff Ruff
    Thanks Bill, I hope you get the ‘all clear’.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just hopping out of car in Whakatane NZ. Doing fine.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy as a hippity hoppity tree frog. I like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Bill I love how you end this looking to the tree frogs: “Happy enough to sing in the dark, happy for the rain.” Beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. All these years, I thought your explorations and wandering alone up in the Cascades or down along the rocky ocean shores was where that happiness resided. I always imagined enviously that you had found something in places others hadn’t bothered to look. A place where it is easy to breathe.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great piece! Easy on the eyes and ears, rich with imagery. “The dreariness made poets of us all.” First paragraph reminds me of a comedy bit I heard making fun of California weathermen, where every day was “Early morning fog, burning off by mid-afternoon.” Is there anyone who’s not at least slightly annoyed by high-energy corporate trainers? Don’t they make most of us want to reach for a barf bag? Or is that just me? And isn’t that ironic, since they are often quite right. It is all about attitude, and choice, and the power of language to change thought, behavior, feelings, etc. They’re not wrong, is the thing. But you are right, too. The answers are inside, and the frogs and the rain and maybe some breathwork can help us get to them.

    I’m looking at the sky
    I’m waiting on the rain
    I’m waiting for the frogs to fall
    Down on me
    ~ Wayne Coyne and Co.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s so cool, that comment there. And I’m just overjoyed to still be in touch with you here after all these years, really grateful for that. Thanks for hanging with me for so long. Love how you put it here, it’s all those things that are fun to make fun of and spot on too. Looking forward to picking your brain maybe this year sometime now that you’ve been in the practice yourself for some time now. Thanks for being you, Walt! Ha ha ha ha! Happy new year too.


  9. I hope the colonoscopy went well, and that the tree frogs are still singing. They only sing when conditions are right which caused me to think about your struggles. Controlling our environment as best we can, often making the right conditions, can have its benefits, but it can also cause conflict. Finding the balance between control and letting go is never easy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Christopher for that. Your words remind me of a sage Zen master in your clarity, love that. You’re right about the conditions needing to be right for them to sing, I’d never thought of it that way. Thanks for leaving me something profound to chew on, that’s lovely.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I like the idea of the attitude pin with an upside-down smiley, like a scarlet A warning from the Positive Attitude people. Although my sister, the neuroscience nerd, tells me a lot of that stuff is true, even making yourself smile (ouch! I think I cracked a cheek muscle) actually makes you feel happier despite yourself. I envy your happy singing tree frogs, I love those little guys.
    Enjoyed reading the interesting comments this piece prompted, too. Write on, Bill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your sister is a neuroscience nerd! How interesting, my wife is a budding one herself. And inverting the attitude pin, like a Tarot card, is kind of funny. Good ol’ Hester Prynne, seems doomed just by her name.


  11. When I went through surgery, it was not fun, but at the same time, I thought: “Well, this is new!” It was all rather fascinating. Maybe disease just needs better marketing. “Cancer: A Break From the Routine!”

    I call BS on your wide receiver. You can’t prove an alternate reality. Idiot might have dropped the ball anyway.

    I clearly have a terrible attitude.

    Liked by 1 person

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