Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll provides some useful self-help advice in I AM FINE. She writes:

One of our favorite movies is the 1987 Billy Crystal and Danny DeVito comedy, Throw Momma From the Train. The Crystal character is a frustrated novelist who teaches a Creative Writing class which attracts a variety of sad sacks including Danny DeVito’s character, Owen. Owen is a pathetic loser who lives with a mother who would make Tony Soprano’s toxic mother look like Mother Teresa. (To use two very current references…)

For his part, the Crystal character has “issues” with his wretched ex-wife. Inspired by a Hitchcock movie, the plot depicts two unlikely conspirators coming up with the idea of killing each other’s albatross. In one of the failed murder attempts, Owen comes home thinking Crystal has succeeded and the deed is done. Alas, not only is it not done, but there are unseen policemen in his house. He sees his undead mother and screams, “Momma! You’re ALIVE!”

When he notices the cop, he covers his tracks seamlessly by saying: “Old people! You have to reassure them.”

I mention this line – which made us laugh long before we reached an age when we ourselves could appreciate occasional proof of life – because I recently bought a coffee mug that says: “I AM FINE.” To reassure me. Because in the current climate, I don’t always feel FINE.

The first step in feeling fine is to realize just how good we have it. I live in the greatest country on God’s green earth, though it seems to be perched on a precipice currently. I have my health, at least maintained at a level that is “normal” for a short, chubby woman of even Later Late Middle Age. I can see; I can hear; I can and do walk about 10-12,000 steps a day. Although some days it is closer to the “10” than the 12,000. Hahaha. I kid.

I rarely fall asleep while talking with foreign dignitaries, or even dinner guests, except occasionally, a short nap between courses. Although I do enjoy ice cream, I can still speak extemporaneously without dead-staring into space for several awkward minutes. I laugh easily and often. I have a wonderful, loving husband and a large network of smart, funny, kind, valued friends. How lucky is all that???

When we look around us at the poverty, disease, and lack of opportunity for the mass of suffering humanity, we should be ashamed at how many things that throw us off course are truly “First World Problems.”

I will give you an example: as I have discussed in a couple of columns, we have spent the worst part of the desert summer “up North” in the mountains where it is routinely 20 degrees cooler than The Dusty Little Village. Our rental place is a delight. It suits us perfectly, even with a whole lower level mancave for Max the Novelist to write in peace. We were prepared to sign up for every summer for the indefinite future. Alas, our landlord just informed us that they are probably going to sell the place.

We – okay, mostly I – went into a bit of a depressive tailspin at the thought of trying to find another suitable place we like as well as this one. Then Max, the Above-Mentioned Novelist, pointed out that I needed to put that “problem” in perspective. Verbally slapping me in the face so that I could say, “Thanks, I needed that.” Only without an actual slap and subsequent unfortunate gunplay, police sirens, Urgent Care, restraining orders, you know the drill. KIDDING!

There are tens of thousands of homeless people living, eating and eliminating on the streets of our major cities, and I have one excellent house for sure, and am upset because I may have to look for a different “summer” house to rent. Get a grip!

So we are almost all of us blessed beyond any possible sense of merit. Lesson #1 should be “An attitude of perpetual gratitude.” Which is not to say that there are not serious, significant attacks on our liberty and God-given rights, by nefarious agents and bad actors. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of those assaults and idiocies. That, I believe, is deliberate. Why do you think our Evil Overlords come up with 3,000-page bills? It’s the paper equivalent of Tiananmen Square. Bury us in a blizzard of bovine byproduct.

We have to pick our battles carefully. So that is lesson #2, from Alinsky actually: pick a target, isolate it and freeze it and then mock the living heck out of it and everyone associated with it.

Lesson #3: even the strongest people can be broken. We need to avoid burning out. How to do that? Sometimes we have to just turn off the noise. It is not healthy to spend all day every day surfing the Net and our phones. How my Power Line colleagues do it, I cannot say.

Along the same lines, we need to know our individual limitations. When I glanced even briefly at the two beautiful female Marines who were murdered by the 7th Century jackals, and saw the one holding an Afghan baby, I knew that I could not read further in the article without rendering myself paralyzed with grief and rage. Ignorance may not be bliss, but some knowledge is simply devastating to our morale rather than inspiring us to action.

We need to form supportive networks of like-minded people and get and keep in touch. We need to try really hard to disconnect from the noise long enough before bedtime to get a good amount of sleep. And do all the other things that we know we are supposed to do, but that seem like a lot of trouble – you know the things – hydrate; exercise; take some C, D3 and Zinc, eat a lot more cake; eat a lot less kale; buy more ammo; drink more bourbon. (Some items are just my personal ideas. Your ideas may vary. But rest assured, they are all Science.)

Lastly, no human beings were meant to be “fine” every minute, any more than we were meant to be “safe” or “comfortable” as a permanent lifestyle. Academia and much of corporate America have traded Freedom of Speech, open exchange of controversial ideas, and mental toughness for a totally illusory sense of “safety.” It is a national disgrace that we have raised a couple generations of children who are assured that they are entitled to be safe from disagreement, challenge and even effort, since all outcomes should be the same.

So sometimes I am sad, sometimes I am angry, often I am disappointed – in myself, in others, in circumstances. But, on balance, I AM BLESSED, LUCKY, and yeah, hand me that coffee cup because I AM FINE.

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