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June 8, 2011

Happy What?

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.  (from “Desiderata,” Max Ehrmann)



My first hero, along with Captain Kangaroo, before Willie Mays, was Roy Rogers. He would shoot the guns out of the badguys’ hands, then do some trick-riding on his best friend Trigger, then sing a duet with his perfect wife, Dale. Roy Rogers always knew the right thing, did it, and won. We need a role model like that, don’t we?

When, in high school, I became a letter-writer (guess I liked my friends (especially female) at postal delivery arm’s length, less threatening, you know). And I ended all my witty epistles with Roy’s salute (and ‘60’s hippie expression): Happy Trails! I even learned the song on my ukulele.

Then I turned world-traveler, hiker and hitchhiker, and it meant all the more to me. Happy Trails. Then I aged. Several of my friends died (car wreck, cancer, drink, cancer, car wreck, AIDS), my first marriage died, my career died, my professional music experiment died … some of my dreams, a bit of my health, a lot of innocent people in the world, enlightened principles, the good earth – it seemed like all humanity slid downhill … AVALANCHE!!!!!

Kids too scared to go outside to play, people afraid to talk to Arabs, fear of food, phones, travel, ill health, being alone, fear of losing a house, a job, a family, a love. Fear of bad stuff that hasn't even happened yet. As they say, the worst thirst is when your well’s NOT dry.

My slogan became “Happy Trials.” Okay, trials, tough luck, bitterness, got it, but why happy? Because in these hard times (in any times) it’s way too easy to be a pessimist! I want a challenge, something difficult– not to have a mindless smiley face, but a conscious, conscientious attitude of hope, a balance to achieve.

If I believe this is it, we get one go-round, then I don’t want to spend my 70-year allotment with a scowling heart.

Natalie Merchant said, in her masterpiece, “Life is Sweet”:
It's a pity
It's a crying shame
Who pulled you down again?
How painful it must be
To bruise so easily inside

It's a pity
It's a downright crime
But it happens all the time
You wanna stay little daddy's girl
Wanna hide from the vicious world outside

But don't cry
Know the tears'll do no good
So dry your eyes

They told you life is hard
It's misery from the start
It's dull and slow and painful

I tell you life is sweet
In spite of the misery
There's so much more
Be grateful

They told you life is long
Be thankful when it's done
Don't ask for more
You should be grateful

But I tell you life is short
Be thankful because before you know
It will be over

Cause life is sweet
And life is also very short
Your life is sweet.

Can I do it? Can I look on the sunny side? Will I live it like Roy Rogers?

No, I’m not succeeding yet in seeing the silver lining (rather than the dark cloud) in this world surely full of love, joy and beauty but teetering on the brink of disaster, immeasurable pain and violent despair, HOWEVER (as McMurphy said) at least I’m trying.

Happy trials, Martin


Mutt: Get it? The man said, “happy trials.”
Jeff: Happy isles, happy crocodiles.
Mutt: Happy smiles, happy argyles.
Jeff: Happy juveniles, happy exiles.
Mutt: Happy miles, happy gentiles.
Jeff: Boy, that was fun.
Mutt: Really?
Jeff: Two cows are standing next to each other in a field. Daisy says to Dolly, "I was artificially inseminated this morning." "I don't believe you," says Dolly. "It's true, no bull!" exclaims Daisy.
Mutt: If lawyers are disbarred and priests defrocked, doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners depressed? (Teachers, of course, would be declassified!)
Jeff: English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn't a race at all). That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible. And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this joke, I end it.
Mutt: Thank you.


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