Someone surprised me with a copy of some life improvement literature not too long ago. I remember the specific disappointment felt when I reached out a hand for said surprise and got 300 pages on why I suck at parenting and need to live exactly as I am not living. I learned that day that not only does “surprise” not always translate to “treat” but also “treat” doesn’t always equate to 3 pound bag of Skittles or box of puppies. This treat felt like getting kicked in the shin while a pastor hits you repeatedly about the neck and shoulders with a chunk of Corinthians.
Ever the polite one, I graciously accepted the book, ever so lovingly sat the treasure upon the table, and my beer- with much care and manners and gentility- parked its icy, brown bottled bottom on the superior smiley face of the author’s über elite cover-flap biography. You went to Harvard. Your wife is pretty.You drive nice cars. On Sundays you fine tune your custom tennis racket. Your doubles partner is actually Jesus H. Christ. The glossy sales pitch of Be Like Me was dangerously close to working. I felt a twinge of failure for having not stuck to tennis lessons as a kid. Just when I was prepared to kick myself for not having a pretty wife and a Harvard degree, the sight of Bud Light’s water ring skewing the photo and forming a hilariously unfortunate mustache across the fancy author’s fancier wife’s face seemed to stomp out that little flicker of effort all a’flaming from within me.
Some time later, the How To tutorial stays blissfully untouched and watermarked. My thought is not that I am beyond improvement. My life is certainly not void of a need to be enriched (extra on the “rich-ed” part). See? Just the fact that I just cracked a money joke when we’re talking about fixing one’s mind, body, and soul is enough proof that I am the hottest kind of mess. I’ve just found that for me- little, old, tennis-less me- the best way to elicit personal growth and change is to, well, make it feel a lot like sitting. When someone made the mistake of dropping the old adage “If money grew on trees…” within earshot, I grabbed some gardening gloves and got to searching for prosperity. I adopted the mentality that perhaps the fullest, richest life can be found without having to torture myself, tug and nip and jab at myself, change myself. Maybe life’s greatest methods aren’t printed in books by shiny haired tools. Maybe life’s greatest lessons can require little to no effort or, um, learning. Maybe I saw a bunch of funny YouTube videos and just wanted to share them with you in a way that made you certain that I am, in fact, a good life guru with mysterious means of making the seemingly silly all of a sudden incredibly insightful and life-altering. No. Definitely I saw a bunch of funny YouTube videos and just want to share them without writing a whole post called “Look. These Are Funny. Now Laugh.”. If there is a point it is this: we needn’t look to well-starched public speakers or zen-ful yogis or certified specialists for wisdom. We can help ourselves without the self-help jargon and figure out how to without consulting a slew of How To’s. Without further ado, here are a few jewels of the world-wide web and the important, perspective-shifting, revelation-dawning, life-enriching lessons we can take from them… for free.
“I smile because it’s worth it”/ “Really what you just have to want to do is take the ride”: Marcel may look like just a bulge-eyed shell wearing shoes. But the little Conk That Could teaches us not to take for granted the liberties of a human life. You’d never lose a sibling in a freak balloon incident. You can turn the page of a book without having an asthma attack. By god, I bet you even sleep on a mattress. Still, the small-voiced shell shows us that there is always, always something to smile about. Other unrelated lessons: Size totally does matter, and pink Keds look precious on just about anything.
“And when you’re on the street, depending on the street, I bet you are definitely in the top three good lookin’ girls on the street… depending on the street.”: First and foremost, the lesson to be learned here is to never go to a party thrown by any person or person’s with names derived from or shortened to Dave (Davenport, Davey, David, Daveluffugous, etc.). Also, don’t sleep with Dave’s friend. Also, too? This sing-along tidbit of truth offers notes on how to pick a mate who will enhance versus diminish your existence. For instance, I turned down many a boy who lavished false praise upon me. The classmate who refered to me as a “hotty with a body” or the guy who simply whistled in my general direction as I passed by his dusty, construction site of a job. When selecting a life partner, one has every right to be picky. Case in point: I waited until I found a man who refers to me as a “hotty with a body and a pretty good personality sometimes” and only answer to cat calls when the cat calling cares enough to personally address me. When Tom whistled and called out “Hey. Hey, girl” and I realized I was the only girl on that side of the street, I knew his ogling eyes were meant only for me. We’re super in love and getting married in a couple of weeks.
“It ain’t over.”: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! Who says this peppy mantra can’t apply to ex-boyfriends? Tracy shows us that with a Can Do/ Can’t Get Over You attitude, we can rise above obstacles big and small (big: public shame/ small: restraining order) and find our bliss… or at least our chapstick. We can always find our lip balm. Another really thought-provoking point? Women may have searched far and wide for superficial beauty, and we’ve been horribly misguided. It was in our pantries all along.
And finally, perhaps the single most significant wisdom circulating the computer waves these days: be yourself. It would be easy to see why Elmo would hate himself. I mean, he has every reason to seriously, horribly despise his own being. He’s hairy, and obnoxious, and has a voice that leaves us all a little unsure if we shouldn’t be calling him Elma. After years of self-loathing and looking for love (and tickles) in all the wrong places, I’m glad to see the little guy (girl? Big Foot’s red-headed stepchild?) finally accepting his quirks. Of all the lessons I am sure you’ve learned today, let this be the first: Celebrate the uniqueness that is you. Let many strangers tickle your belly and often: that would be the second.
What wise kind of wisdom have you received lately?
Do you find big lessons in small, silly places?