So anyway, my mother has always been happy-go-lucky. And it's not because she hasn't had her share of hard times and unhappiness. In fact she's probably had more than her share, and yet she always manages to slide back to the happy end of the scale. She's always had tons of interests, tons of friends, and even at 94 still knows how to connect with people.
My mother is an outgoing, optimistic woman who puts on a happy face and enjoys life.
Like me. Sometimes.
My father, on the other hand, was anti-social. Though he was a brilliant man with many solitary interests, classical music, art, military history and gourmet baking among them, he didn't relate to people on a personal level and had no real friendships. He taught medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Medical School in Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, he wrote books on endocrinology, lectured across the United States , and was one of the top thyroid specialists in the country, though sometimes even people from other countries came to him for treatment. In fact we used to have a beautiful painting hanging in our living room of two Siamese fighting fish given to my father as a gift from some distinguished person from Thailand. (Romaine, isn't that awesome picture hanging in your dining room now?) And there's a life-sized portrait of my father still hanging in in the hallway at Thomas Jefferson Medical School for his contribution to his field.
And though he loved his work and was greatly loved in return by his patients, students and colleagues, outside his work he was a loner and an introvert who I'm guessing had a great capacity for unhappiness.
Like me. Sometimes.
I think it's my father's aloofness in me that keeps me from being steeped in the warm sea of nurturing friendships that makes my mother the happy, connected person she is.
And I think it's my mother's capacity for joy in me that keeps me from sinking, disconnected, into my father's dark pool of emotional isolation.
But I wonder? Am I really a positive person at heart who just has to push through some rogue layers?
Or am I really a negative person who's particularly strong at resisting the gloom and finding the light?
Or neither of the above?
I once saw a movie called "Happy Go Lucky". It was about a young woman who was always happy no matter what happened to her, sometimes to the point where she could drive other people crazy. My initial impression of this movie was that it was kind of lame - I mean, a whole movie of scene after scene of this lady who's never unhappy, no matter what happens to her? What was the point?
But then the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I became of the idea of always being happy, no matter what. I decided to try it. To make myself be happy, no matter what was going on in my world.
And it worked. For a while. Until I came to the realization that unlike me, the woman in the movie had no children, and though she herself suffered some misfortune, there were no scenes of her having to endure the pain of someone she dearly loved.
On the other hand, the character in the movie did tend to make life's lemons into lemonade. Which is, I think, is the modus operandi of those fortunates who have a high happiness score and a low unhappiness score on the Positive Affectivity and Negative Affectivity Schedule test. (See yesterday's post).
I think I'm going to go back and watch that movie again. And get out my lemon squeezer.