Tag Archives: happiness

Fist Bumps for Everyone

I endure the same slow, mundane drive to work every day.  I see the same landmarks, the same buildings, sometimes even the same people in the same cars.  I drive the same 26 minutes, five days a week, and even with a myriad of options, I almost always take the same route.  As I turn off of Wisconsin Avenue onto 92nd Street – the home stretch before I arrive at my second home – I see her in all her glory:  Fist Bump Lady.

Fist Bump Lady, who shall be known as FBL henceforth, is the crossing guard at a crosswalk that leads directly to the Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital.  Short, pleasingly plump, and with an ever-ready smile on her face, FBL never fails to deliver.  Sunny days are met with an extra spring in her step.  Rainy days are no bother, and why would they be when you’ve got a bright yellow slicker and sturdy galoshes?  Sleet and snow?  No problem, for FBL is ready for that, too.  I can’t say for sure that she has one of those stocking caps that looks like a panda bear, but she seems like the kind of person who would.  She is ready for any of the Wisconsin elements, and cheerfully so.

Person after person, professional after professional, doctor after doctor – all are greeted with the same degree of enthusiasm, and all are offered a fist bump to start their day off right.  A few outliers avert their eyes and rush past FBL.  Most accept the offer, and give FBL a smile and a hearty fist bump back.  A few other outliers have taken FBL under their wing, and bring her coffee or other treats (after a compulsory fist bump, of course.)  It seems that in the land of all things Froedtert, FBL has become the mascot for healing what hurts us.

I admire this woman, FBL, because of her consistency and her zest for life. I don’t know a single thing about her, other than what I have witnessed as I wait at the crosswalk day after day, eager to move ahead 2 more blocks and make the turn into my home-away-from-home parking lot.  But I do know this:  she has made happiness her priority and nothing is going to get in the way of that.  Not working a job most of us would not care to do. Not crappy Wisconsin weather, which is crappy too much of the time.  Not even the occasional hater.  No, no, no.  FBL has made a choice to be happy no matter what, and through her deeds shows us it is a choice we could all make.  Thanks for reminding us how to be in this world, FBL:  That whoever we are and whatever we do, we can always be of good cheer.


The Power of Subtraction

In our society, people are often obsessed with what they want to gain in life. Gaining power, gaining money, acquiring status and wealth and possessions. But what people often fail to see is that the seemingly simple arithmetic concept of addition may be where they are missing the boat. Subtraction needs its props, too.

I never really thought of this much until the last four years. As I went through the pains of divorce, recognizing that most of the pain I was experiencing was self-induced only made the pain that much worse. Pain of the realization I made a wrong choice to begin with, then failed to listen to myself and my body as it violently protested to my choice, then failed to keep the commitment I made to the wrong choice. A series of bad choices and failures, and voila! I had lost everything I never wanted to begin with but didn’t quite know how to live without.

But as the gaping wounds of shame, loneliness and guilt began to heal, I came upon a stunning revelation. By subtracting something from my life, I actually gained. I gained true happiness and bliss for the first time. I gained passion and peace and serenity and self-assuredness. I gained recognition that indeed, I can be enough if that is how it needs to be. And I gained a comfort that I now know myself well enough to avoid repeating my mistakes. Next time, at the very least, I knew that I would listen to me.

The very definition of subtraction is that you are removing a part from the whole. But this implies that the “whole” was verifiably true and understood at the outset. Perhaps, as human beings, we fail to recognize that in order to be whole, we have to have some pieces missing in the first place. The pieces that will magnetize us to the others who can gently and lovingly fill those voids for us, thus creating a bond that is sanctified by the cosmos. Maybe, just maybe, the quest is not to keep adding to our lives in an effort to make ourselves whole, but rather it is to subtract from our lives until we can really see and focus upon our purest selves. Perhaps then, and only then, are we ready for all that awaits us and all that we are meant to be.