When Happiness Frustrates (or Was Oedipus Crazy or What?!)

So I’m approaching my 100th post on this happiness blog, which I started at the beginning of the year.  I have tremendously enjoyed writing and researching and taking pictures and being silly and interviewing and hopefully encouraging readers toward happier lives.  It’s SO much fun, and it can be SO … FRUSTRATING!

Let me explain.

(Listen, I just proofread the big tangent talk below, and my advice is as follows:  1. Do not read it if you don’t like getting sidetracked or running down rabbit trails.  2. Do not read if you’re too empathic of others’ pain.  3. Do not read if you’ve ever hurt your eye.  4. Do not read if you enjoyed Oedipus Rex.  And 5, you probably shouldn’t read it if you’re Greek or know a bunch of Greek people or rented My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  If you’re skipping ahead–and by the way, I would probably skip ahead if you are or were a mama’s boy–I placed a line of ******* where you can pick up the story safely.  Okay, there.  Gosh, what I do for my readers.)

Remember that whole mess when Oedipus gouged his eyes out?  Goodness, I just thought about that–and I usually never think about what I write–and had to cover my eyes with BOTH hands to deal with the imagined agony.  Didn’t he use a brooch off his mother’s, I mean his wife’s (oh Lord) gown to do it?  I know he was upset and all, but COME ON.  To get an idea of the horror of this insane act, do this quickly:  put a tiny drop of Dollar Tree shampoo on your right little finger and open your right eye really wide.  Now touch your eyeball very briefly, and see how it feels.  (I have to do this regularly in the spring and fall for my allergies.  Honestly, I do.)  See??  It hurts BAD, right?  (Spring and fall, btw, are my weepy seasons.)  Now help me understand HOW on earth Oedipus could plunge a golden bear claw (or whatever) pin directly INTO one EYEball … and then the other!

Dramatic IRONY (as well as eye fluid, i.e. vitreous humor, “humor”?! really?) basically oozed everywhere in the play.  Seer Tiresias was blind but “saw” metaphorically.  (You are remembering all of this from world lit, correct?)  And that nosey, noisy Greek chorus kept yapping and gossiping, Harper Valley PTA-ishly, about the dysfunctional goings-on.  Like they didn’t have skeletons in their own closets.  That part grated on my nerves.

********

Okay, here’s the Oedipal connection to my happiness blog: the ridiculous DRAMA and IRONY of me getting so upset and UNhappy from time to time as I am directly in the very process of writing about happiness!!!  And nine times out of ten, the unhappy bringer is technologically produced.  Let me give you a couple of examples.  Source of Frustration #1: uncooperative pictures and images.  For some reason, when I first place them in my WordPress media library, pictures often look like this photo of me when I found an empty but colorfully festive table at the Savannah Book Festival and wished I had a bunch of literary-themed cupcakes or something to sell:

So calmly, and at this point still in charge, I hit the “edit” button and take 60-90 seconds trying to decide which arrow to press to rotate pic in the right direction:

Thanking Jesus that nobody is around to see me messing up this child-simple task so badly, yet at the same time feeling glad that finally I can get the picture straight, I hit the arrow button again:

Finally, in tears and wondering two things: if there would be any reader interest in a hate blog and what on earth possessed me to zip that foolish black jacket all the way up to my throat, I uncaringly and recklessly hit another button:

Whew.

Source of Frustration #2 is what I call “The Rapture.”  When I was a child, I heard a good bit in church about the rapture–that time when (depending on your pre-, a-, and post- end times ideology) believers will be caught up in the air, and others will be left behind.  It never failed that after I heard such a sermon, the next day I would come home from school and NOBODY would be there.  Terrified, I would grab my obviously sinful cocker spaniel Blondie and, both of us whimpering, canvass the neighborhood frantically searching for mama, finally finding her down the street with pink rollers in her hair, getting a home perm and drinking a Yoo-Hoo.  (Sidebar:  I still get nervous when I turn down a popular aisle at Wal-Mart–Seasonal Candy–and find it deserted.)

Well, my Happiness Blog Rapture occurs when I am merrily typing along and, inexplicably, my fingers touch a key or combination of keys, and I delete EVERYTHING I’ve written.  The first time this happened was when I had just completed four items on my initial Five Friday Happy Bringers post.  Then blank.  Supposedly, WordPress autosaves your work, but not during the rapture, it seems.

One of the truths I have gained from my frustration with this blog is that happiness sometimes requires simple perseverance.  Just doing and re-doing when necessary.  And laughing at the falls.  And accepting “what is” and “what happens.”

Today I read a little of the book my older daughter is currently reading–Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman.  In it the author suggests that we Americans could take a French lesson and do a better job of teaching our children how to accept frustration as a necessary and even desirable component of life.  (I probably need a nanny.)

But gosh, sometimes I really want to take the hammer to my brand new laptop!

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