Mad

Mad at myself
for lacking ambition.

Mad at my alarm clock
for going off at 4:53 a.m., M-F.

Mad at sex.
More trouble than it’s worth. There’s always a price to be paid.

Mad at Lay’s potato chips
for being spiked with a mysterious addictive ingredient.

Mad at myself
for not jogging enough.

Mad at my sister-in-law
for how she treats my wife.

Mad at my wife
for [***redacted***].

Mad at my 12-year old daughter
for entering the argumentative/hyper-sensitive years.

Mad at Vladimir Putin
for fucking up Ukraine.

Mad at Uri Ariel
for fucking up Israel.

Mad at Nuri Kamal al-Maliki
for fucking up Iraq.

Mad at twitter
for posting ISIS taunts. Why do they do that?

Mad at wealthy people.
Because of them, I can’t afford concert tickets anymore.

Mad at myself
for being so jealous, jealous, jealous.

Mad at religion (ALL SECTS).
The source of the world’s misery.

Mad at the gay couple at the beach
for wearing bright, canary-yellow Speedos. My children don’t need to see your junk. A little discretion, please.

Mad at the woman who cuts my hair.
If you’re such a ‘Master Stylist,’ why are you working at Cheap Kuts?

Mad at my old job
for not hiring me on staff.

Mad at my new job
for mistakenly thinking I’m smarter than I am.

Mad at gas.
And I don’t mean gasoline.

Mad at my commuting bus pass
for costing $430/month.

Mad at my bus driver
for using the back of his hand to steer a bus full of suburban lemmings going 60 mph down the New Jersey Turnpike so he could text.

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Mad at the dog
for acting like a dog.

Mad at Amazon
for blowing up bookstores. Bastards.

Mad at white people
for acid/techno/house music.

Mad at black people
for rap.

Mad at myself
for not attending college. (An oldie but a goodie.)

Mad at social media.
You don’t have 200 friends, okay? Stop it.

Mad at mobile phones.
A bigger threat to civility than Al-Qaeda.

Mad at this stupid blog
for yanking me out of bed at 3:25 a.m. to write this post.

Not mad at:

My 8-year old daughter.
Still so sweet and innocent.

New York City.
Shelter from the storm.

The lunatic is in my head. Yours too? Here’s a neat trick.

Mental health is mostly a matter of personal choice. That’s the theory put forth by psychiatrist and ex-Clevelander, Dr. William Glasser, who just passed away at age 88. Dr. Glasser wrote a series of successful books about how mental health problems can be resolved by accepting personal responsibility for our own actions. He believed that people are more in control than they realize, which is a scary proposition for many. It’s a heavy responsibility.

“We choose everything we do, including the misery we feel. Other people can neither make us miserable nor make us happy,” he wrote. This will sound familiar to anyone who has dabbled in Buddhism or meditation.

These theories were rejected by psychotherapists who were proponents of prolong, deep-dredging psychoanalysis. Dr. Glasser shifted the power to heal from the doctor to the patient. You can see why this didn’t sit well with many. It’s hard to buy a sailboat when your clients are leaving in droves to cure themselves. Dr. Glasser was adamantly opposed to drug therapy, which upset the pharmaceutical industry. He also believed that efforts to change other people in our lives are doomed and could actually be the cause of further emotional duress.

He encouraged teachers to abstain from class rankings and grading, seeing them as corrosive. “Once children start failing, they begin to believe that they can’t do anything. They give up.” That was me. I was an academic failure. I didn’t do well early on and it fed on itself, like a cancer. If there had been standardized, mandatory testing in order to graduate, as is the case today, I wouldn’t have been awarded a high school diploma.

There are, in my view, valid criticisms. Children shouldn’t be burdened with that much responsibility. Also, there are serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, and cases of ongoing physical and psychological abuse that require outside intervention. But in many instances (certainly, mine), satisfaction can be achieved and sustained by avoiding the urge to blame others and relive past hurts. It’s hard work, but it can be done.

I’m not exactly a bastion of psychological strength, but I shudder to think of the mess I’d be if it weren’t for my continued efforts to stay grounded. To that end, I have a little trick I’ve been employing for years. Whenever I start to spiral into my dark, terrible thoughts, be it on my long commute or staring at the ceiling at 3:15 a.m. or even walking up Madison Avenue, I’ll stop myself and my inner voice will say, “Or, I can choose not to,” and I tend to snap out of it. Not every time, but often enough. It‘s beautiful.

I just reread that last paragraph and it sounds silly, but it’s a powerful tool. And the more you use it, the more effective it becomes. I’m terrible at meditation, but at least I took that much from it.

“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Abraham Lincoln

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Here are a few selections from this weekend’s trip to the local botanical garden. I can’t name any of these flowers. Not a one. It’s not my thing. But I can tell a first edition of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter at five paces. That’s got to count for something.

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I think these next ones are daisies. Right?

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