Happily Ever After
By Tom Froehlich • January 29, 2015
Driving home from work the other night, many things weighed heavily on my mind. The bulk of them most likely weighed more heavily than were necessary. Nothing terribly important. Just a whole closet full of nightmares of what may go wrong in my life. A closet full of nightmares and stories I create. Stories that usually end with “…and then I was shot in the head while falling off of a cliff, dying of some terminal disease that with any luck will be named posthumously after me.” I least I close on a high note. Yes I am, in fact, just that nuts.
Some of these thoughts are as simple as the possibility of having a car accident on the way home from work. This would, of course, result in totaling my car, causing me to lose my job, become unemployable and living on the streets of Los Angeles until I get shot in the head, while falling off of a cliff, dying of some terminal disease that with any luck will be named posthumously after me. I’m not certain how I would react if some sort of natural disaster would strike, but I have a feeling I would be cool with that, as it would circumvent the whole falling off of a cliff, demise.
Oh sure, I pray and I meditate and I do all of the things that Deepok Chopra and Wayne Dyer and Oprah and all of the other spiritual gurus suggest we do to lead a more fulfilling and peaceful life. However, one of the more glaring and pivotal differences that I see, is that Deepok and Wayne and Oprah have like a gazillion dollars so that sort of takes the edge off of their everyday bullshit. And I think it’s fair to say that kind of bumps them up a rung or two on the ladder of enlightenment.
As I pulled out of my parking garage earlier in the day, I decided to pray for the fellow child of the Universe who cut me off just as I attempted to pull out onto the street. Perhaps they just had a fight with their spouse or maybe lost their job or found out a loved one was terminally ill. I thought, “I need to send them loving, healing energy.” Yet when the prayer came out of my mouth it may or may not have gone something like this. “Please God, help that @#$%^ idiot pull his head out of his #$%^& ass so he can see where he is going the next time he gets behind the wheel.” And that prayer may or may not have been accompanied by a double bird, I flashed passive aggressively below the dash, as I drove through three lanes of, Los Angeles, traffic with no hands on the wheel.
I am aware that every thought, every single thought that goes through my mind, is created by me. Me. Nobody else. Whether they are happy thoughts or sad thoughts or kind thoughts or Charles Manson-worthy thoughts, I create them all. And when the negative thoughts come flying into my mind and annihilate my day like a stealth missile, it is my job to process them. Deal with them. Transform them into the kind, joyous, loving thoughts of a fulfilled, loving sentient being. The problem is that when these crazy thoughts come to call, I have already become a psychotic, vindictive, asshole who really has no desire to throw on a saffron colored robe, stick a dot on my forehead and play Gandhi.
I am in fact, fully prepared to court those thoughts as if it were date night on Saturday night. Why wouldn’t I? I created them. Gave birth to them. They are my babies. I must need them in some way. Maybe to prove to myself that the world is not as kind to me as I would like. Or maybe I feel I deserve far greater abundance than I have attained thus far in my life. So I meditate and I pray and do my best to find my way to a more peaceful place within myself. But, I gotta tell ya, some days…some days it seems as if I brush and floss in the morning and start processing and don’t finish until I’m brushing and flossing before bed. I mean, how does a fully realized spiritual being find time to actually live beyond a life of spectacular oral hygiene?
I once had the luxury of a bottle of tequila that assisted me in ignoring, if not actually processing my difficulties, until a blinding hangover set in. Since I have left behind the days of, “chasing after that lost shaker of salt”, I have replaced a dozen or so margaritas with Yogurtland. I mean, a guy has to have something to do while contemplating how to get past a bump or two in the road of life while waiting for total insanity to grab a hold doesn’t he? Of course, I am a bit concerned that by the time I am a fully enlightened being I will be a total fat ass, but I am very good at convincing myself that the yogurt is “low-fat”. Even if it’s not identified as “low-fat”, I work under the assumption it is, determining my generous portion size accordingly. I am in a total a state of denial. I am oblivious to the fact that atop (I have always hated that word! It’s right in there with “whilst”.) this so-called low-fat dairy delight run rivers of chocolate and caramel syrup, several cheesecake nuggets, brownie chunks and a minimum of one of those spiral pirouette cookies. This particular choice is not based so much on flavor, but on the fact that they just make this fat-assed dairy dessert look kind of fancy, up-scale, sophisticated. Anyway, a guy needs a way to unwind after finishing a swing shift working with addicts who are willing to do anything to catch a buzz and escape from reality for a moment. This can run the gamut from snorting their grandma’s ashes to champagne suppositories.
There is a young man who works at Yogurtland, named Joseph. He always greets me with two sample cups, a smile and a delightful, “Hello”, sprinkled with an accent from some exotic island. I have decided it’s exotic merely because I choose it to be. If I can convince myself that the sundae I am about to assemble is a low calorie treat, I can convince myself that the sunny island from which Joseph hails is, in fact, exotic.
Yogurtland is mid-way between work and my apartment. It is open…well, it’s open later at night. Evidently I can’t keep the hours straight, because when I pulled in the other night I could see through the WINDOWS that they were most likely closed. However, in a desperate quest to console myself through a dish of Deep Dutch Chocolate and Peanut Butter Parfait with all of the accoutrement I forged ahead. That was until I saw the sign on the door that sadly informed me that they shut down this port of dairy delight at midnight and, unfortunately, it was ten minutes past the hour. As Joseph walked toward the door, I assumed to lock up for the night, my shoulders visibly slumped in disappointment. Beaten, I reached for the car door handle and as I did, Joseph pushed the door to the store open and said, “Well...are you coming in?”
Trying to hide my elation, I mean it’s just frozen yogurt for God’s sake, I said, “But, you’re closed aren’t you?”
Joseph flashed me a smile and said, “No. I don’t think so. Come in.” Not wanting to overstay my welcome, I quickly dispensed my standard flavors, Deep Dutch Chocolate and Peanut Butter Parfait, into the family size cup. When I arrived at the syrup and topping bar, it was clear that Joseph was already in the process of storing things away for the night.
I said, “Oh, I’m sorry Joseph. You’re really ready to go home and I’m holding you up.”
Joseph’s eyes met mine with a complete look of peace and lack of concern and said, “No really. It’s okay. Just take your time.” It was almost as if Joseph was foreshadowing how necessary it was for me to “take my time”. Grabbing the bottle of caramel sauce, I gave it an over zealous squeeze, shooting a load all over the counter.
Again, I apologized and said, “”Oh my God Joseph. I’m really sorry man. Here I am in a hurry to get out of here so you can go home and all I am doing is making more of a mess.”
Again, he said, “Really. It’s okay.”
I looked at him and asked, “My God, Joseph. Are you always this nice? Every night I come in here you always have a smile on your face and something nice to say. And now here I am keeping you from going home and you just CONTINUE to be gracious. What do you do? Get high in the back room?”
He just smiled and said, “No. I just don’t allow any negativity into my life.” He said it so simply. So matter of fact. There was no doubt he spoke his truth. He didn’t ramble on about it. He just said, “No. I just don’t allow any negativity into my life.” As they say, “The truth needs no defense.”
I just say, "Wow." Here I am at Yogurtland, being offered my choice of hot pink or lime green spoon by the Dalai Lama, after accusing him of doing bong hits in the back room, and I come out with, “Wow.” And then because I felt my initial response wasn’t quite deep enough to fully acknowledge his level spiritual atonement, I followed up with another terribly impressive, “Wow.”
He began wiping up my caramel mess on the counter as I set my dish on the scale, ready to be weighed and paid for. “No. That one’s on us tonight,” Joseph said, flashing me his exotic island smile. Wow.
I got into my car and as I twirled a pirouette cookie into the caramel and chocolate syrup I replayed in my mind, “I just don’t allow any negativity into my life.” I thought of the number of times I welcomed sadness or anxiety or fear into my life. I admitted to myself that not only did I create them, but I also chose to create them. I took them on a Saturday night date. And now I asked myself, “What if I just didn’t allow negativity into my life?” What if I chose not to choose to create the negative reaction to life’s dramas? No cliff. No bullet in the head. No terminal disease. If I didn’t create these thoughts, there would be nothing to process. No need to work through the envy or self-pity. No need, because they simply wouldn’t exist. That certainly frees up an awful lot of time between brushing and flossing.
This is difficult for someone like me to grasp, because I have a creative mind that’s running pretty much 24/7. And as I have mentioned, the outcome to my stories tend more toward the melancholy, if not downright tragic. Once that ball starts rolling, I have no control as to the outcome. Then again, maybe saying “I have no control”, is also a choice. Maybe I just have to begin at the end. Begin at the end and close with the line, “…and he lived happily ever after.” Then I’ll work backward, doing my best to not make it more complicated than it actually is, because I am very good at that. I’ll remind myself of how Joseph made it all sound so simple, most likely because it is. “I just don’t allow any negativity into my life.” I really like the sound of that. Besides, the odds are pretty good they weren’t going to name that disease after me anyway.
“Thanks for the yogurt Joseph,” just doesn’t seem adequate, does it? Wow.
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