Percolating Happiness



What is Happiness?

Are we aware of its presence or absence?

Is it organic?  Meaning it percolates within us, bubbling to the surface, and expressed through facial expression?  Or is it environmental?  Meaning it is outside of us, an experience we find pleasing and therefore are happy?

Is Happiness found in things?  The greater the thing, the greater the Happiness.  Where can Happiness be found?

Many great thinkers hypothesize that Happiness is an emotional state.

From 1958-2008 I’d always had a fairly good idea of what would/could/should make/keep/prolong my idea of Happiness.ahappy1

And yet its achievement was surely impossible: my Happiness hung inches out of reach like that carrot on a stick, the absence of it’s possession was goading, taunting, irritating; what was at first a quest for joy, soon curdled, and its promise soured.

The greek philosopher Epicurus emphasized that Happiness meant being untroubled and absent of pain.

Aristotle, the father of modern drama said of Happiness, “Happiness depends upon ourselves.

The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer “The two enemies of human Happiness are pain and boredom.”  He also said that humans have high expectations.  Man should lower his expectations and remember to aim low.”

If Schopenhauer is correct, then depression is percolating cup after cup of Happiness!    ahappy3



Life By Living


Life, as we know much too well, is plump with memories; old jokes but new laughter.


An eternity of firsts: love, kiss, bike, pirouette, strike out, airline, stitches, lipstick, heartbreak, failure, beer, hangover,
diamond ring, varsity letter, loss, win, marriage, house, flat tirehook line and sinker, kids, grand kids.


And yet, it is precisely these moments that quietly fashioned us like a sculptor casts his marble.
These serendipitous moments pop up like toast and reminds us that

life is really what we’ve learned by living.

Enough With The Melodrama! Gimme Something To Laugh About!


I have come to the conclusion that my blog is dying for an immediate injection of levity!  I mean, really, how long can a writer expect to maintain (or, increase) his audience when he expresses (now routine) woe-is-me posts?  Many of you probably say to yourself, “Woe-is-he?  How about “Woe-is-me?”  I promised to myself when I launched this blog that I would write honestly, especially about subjects that were difficult to express in a metaphorical way.  My graduate school mentor once said, “Hell, anyone can write a drama!  Who isn’t capable of writing personal experience drivel causing readers or audiences to be moved and shed a tear.  Christ, just listen: puppy mauled by pit bull; dad in Iraq, won’t be home for Christmas; the homeless offering half of the little they had; and my favorite: someone secretly sells your <  input pet name and species here  > to save the <  insert anything that people can’t do without here  >. See how easy it is to write tears-down-the-cheek melodrama’s?acomedy2

“But comedy?  That illustrates one’s talent of 1) Undertanding what’s funny; 2) Understand clearly what’s funny to you most likely isn’t funny to strangers; 3a) Never! Never ever ever! write about Christmas (every reader or audience member is loaded with holiday memories which you’d need to best (which is nearly impossible); 3b) Never! Never ever ever! put a dog, any dog onstage at any time!  The audience’s attention and empathy will immediately be drawn to the mongrel show stopper, and Everything you’ve poured over for months or years will be lost to a furry, salivating, and misbehaving clown on four legs! 4)sense of humor which is an innate ability to see a humorous situation which will relate due to it’s familiarity to the majority of your audience; 5)  Timing.  It ain’t funny unless they laugh when you want them to laugh.  Laughter produces a pause in the action which swallows everything until the laughter ebbs.”

A talented writer knows that he/she must control set-ups and punch lines and laughter or else try their hand at writing historical non-fiction.  One comedic device is writing a common comedic situation (and the audience is in on the gag) where broad and stereo-typical characters

acomedy5develop hair-brained schemes which the audience knows will fail.  The audience’s or reader’s premonition is validated when our sympathetic buffoons and sad sack’s muddle past menial obstacles to find themselves nose-to-nose with the impossible-of-impossible obstacles requiring our “down-and-out” characters to change (catharsis) in order to successfully beat the odds.  At long last the characters arrive at the end of the book or play changed for the better, admired by the audience for being obstinate and tenacious in their pursuit, and, most likely, will have the dubious honor of water-cooler and happy-hour conversations.  An actors job is to bring a third dimension to what you’ve written.  Actors can’t improve a poorly structured play, just as an editor can’t proof read draft after draft of a premature novel.  It’s been said, “Good actors can make a good play great; but not even great actors can make a poorly written play mediocre.”  Judicious editing and the full understanding that as a writer you produce a product (play, novel, article essay, or fiction) just like a cow produces milk.  No where in the thousand upon thousand upon thousand of words you’ve laid to paper is a Sacred Cow.  Absolutely everything you hand over to a critical public may be arrogantly ignored, or it may be read, or after reading it coldly tossing it in the vicinity of the recycle can.  It’s then picked up by a vain and autocratic mailroom grunt with champagne dreams of big corner offices, hot hot hot secretary’s, and a humidor stuffed with Davidoff cigars writes you a letter highlighting the scripts weaknesses, and then, provides a colossal pile of his rewritten scenes for you to add to the script post-haste.  The talent to create a play or book which, night after night and joke after joke and laughter after laughter takes mechanical training and the unusual vision to see  funny behavior in colloquial and mediocre situations. And try as you might to write comedy without that Godgiven sixth sense of identifying humor in commonplace situations and change the menial to the amusing just might develop into a book or play that draws the attention, curiosity, and chit-chat of the general population to buy the book or see the play. But if your degree of creativity resembles that of a stenographer and you plow through or inflate or discover that the situation you thought was funny isn’t as plentiful as first thought you simply shorten the product in whichever genre you write, you might be the author of a funny play, or a funny story, or or a funny book.

But you won’t have a comedy. 



A Patient Physician Waits For My Question . . .

Will this Failure affect my . . .  Durability?

In a broad sense, of course.  I mean, who can possibly predict someone’s . . . permanence, so to speak . . . not that death is, in any way, humorous, but if we did know, one could make plans . . . which is when I trailed off, consciously fleeing The Doctor’s adying1despairing and melancholic answer which, upon delivery, affirmed my inkling and, at first, felt promising, that is until the import of his answer felt as heavy as a saturated woolen coat.

My disquieting understanding was followed by remorse and the physician‘s shifting of weight left right left right; my attention lost to the ticker-tape listing of buoyant memories; then, hailing from afar like a sea boat captain, a nervous cough interrupts my avoidance with sharp and determined finger-snaps by a now brusque and tidy physician whose demeanor is demanding (disguised as cheerful support) takes the tone of an impatient boss, Is There Anything else, then?

adying4That’s when we resumed our assigned roles of patient and doctor.  Long gone was the arm-across-the-back-and-onto-the -other-shoulder fatherly imitation of empathy.  Tucking his humanity neatly in a breast pocket below his blue-stitched name and title like first graders whose names are also stitched but for opposite reasons: The Doctor: To tell you who he is and his department (lest you wonder): And first graders: To remind themselves who they are and what they wore.

Upon empathy’s discharge, a muddy silence quickly appeared swallowing the Doctor and I and filling the tiny room with despair, melancholy, and a dreadful load of confusion.  It reminded me of a time long ago when a generic teen-age girl gave me the sign to try for home, only to be quickly slapped by my host causing my retreat and a kind-of cease-fire and the same shameful silence which the Doctor cast by answering my foolish question:even though I was all-too-aware of the penalty, I asked the question with the same tentative, cautionary, and deliberate way that I behaved with that tart.  And coincidently the responses were eerily similar: the tart with a sharp slap and immediate rejection, and the Doctor with a representational slap and unsettling honesty saying It’s got the moxie, it’s got fervor and doggedness. It’s very rare to be strong and efficient; even rarer still to be too strong and to be too efficient.

His foot steps down the hall seemed to whisper apologies until he turned and they both disappeared.  And there I was, alone, all alone, all-by-myself alone except for the damned answer, of which I’d had some degree of premonition.  But hearing it in your head isn’t official thereby maintaining a small degree of hope.  And then I asked and then he answered and then neither one of us would ever be the same.adying2

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back


A few weeks ago I was incapable of simply managing daily routines such as bathing; I couldn’t process dual stimuli so if I was brushing my teeth and a faucet was turned on my attention went to the running water and my brushing slowed to a stop as though someone had killed the power. There was no conscious thought besides a gnawing, chewing darkness as though black velvet curtains had been suddenly drawn, shutting out the noonday sun. If I was present I was only present to the fact that I had, almost immediately fallen down a deep tunnel of which there was no light and no escape and no orientation. Or better, as though I had been swallowed by the immediate mud-slide of my life and in complete darkness and suffocation I simply held on to the one hope that maybe my prescription would act as a breathing tube offering me much needed oxygen as Nick, my psychiatrist and friends and family kept begging for me to hold on as help was on the way.

Two days ago I traveled north to Milwaukee to spend a couple of days with my older brother. We sat for nine hours the first day and six hours the next simply talking. Well, I talked and in a profound gesture of brotherhood generosity he listened interjecting sparingly opinions. It was an exhaasadguyusting experience met with fatigue, resistance and weeping, but I plowed through years of illumination, insights and epiphanies. It was the first time that I was able to track the experiences as they evolved much like tracking a lion or bear by using their footprints in a densely green forest. It was the first time that I was able to collect and sort, catch and dissect, speak and understand a monumental array of thoughts, failed expectations, compromises, distance and pain. My life for the past three years had been laid out before me like a table at Thanksgiving; every piece in its place awaiting their purpose.

Each day my energy has slowly begun to return and I grow stronger. I am still wobbly and use the assistance of a cane to walk; my gait is slow as I amble to the post-box or to the doctor; I often lean upon it when I tire or grab a hold of a fence or the arm of Nick.

But the most important, painful, and fool hardy admission was that I had erected my life cantilevered and precipitously atop a ravine simply adepressedman1for the view.  Then one evening a mud-slide swallowed me, my partner and his family, my career and others at work, my family and friends.   And now, standing at the base of change, the annihilation of my overlooked life, I now stand alone before this devastation, try to catch a glimpse of any familiar object in order to delay the inevitable: to once again try to salvage any pain my uncaged manic self inflicted