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“But aren’t the trees nice and full?” – Andy to Opie
It’s one of my favorite Andy Griffith episodes. Opie nurtures a baby bird, then has to set it free. He’s sadly looking at his empty cage when Andy makes him look at the tree, where the bird is happily singing with other birds. It’s a Mayberry moment that I never grow tired of.
I thought about this scene recently while reading a chapter about Perception. Probably the only person in the world to make the trek from a Psychology text book to Opie Taylor, but I’m okay with that. My brain has taken stranger routes than that.
per-cep-tion – (noun) 1. The process, act, or faculty of perceiving. 2. The effect or product of perceiving. 3. Recognition and interpretation of sensory stimuli based chiefly on memory. The neurological processes by which such recognition and interpretation are effected. 4. Insight, intuition, or knowledge gained by perceiving.
The capacity for such insight.
The above quote comes from dictionary.com – a site who’s humans probably don’t make the Psych-Opie connection.
Here’s a definition from one who does:
per-cep-tion – (determiner) How you choose to look at the world.
Determiner as the “Parts of Speech” byline? Youbetcha. Perception, when used in writing, is a noun – I’ll give Webster that. But used in life, it’s a determiner – it modifies your world and determines the happiness of that world.
I just looked at my glass of Diet Dr. Pepper (Honest Abe, I did.), to see how much was left. I needed to know if I should halt the writing process for a fuel-related pit stop. I can keep going because the glass is half-full, which is sort of ironic, huh? Here we are thinking about perception and life hands us an illustration. The old “Is the glass half full or half-empty” ploy. Tres Cool. My reaction to this scenario has always been this: Whether I see it as half full or half empty all depends upon how thirsty I am. If I’m a little bit parched, it’s plenty full. If I’ve been working in the yard and feel like the grim reaper’s taking me out by dehydration, it’s not nearly full enough.
As most things in life, it comes down to this – we see what we want to see, what we’re prepared to see.
Play a little mind game with yourself in the coming days. When life hands you something crappy, see what you can make of it. You may have to tilt your head to the side and squint your eyes, but you can find something worthwhile about most every situation. Even if you have to resort to “I learned a lesson.” or “At least it didn’t kill me.” – just take your mind FROM self-pity and anger TO self-improvement and awareness.
Oftentimes, you just have to laugh.
We live in rural Kentucky – very pretty, but full of (excuse me while I channel Granny Clampett) critters. The rabbits, birds, squirrels, and racoons are welcomed neighbors – the mice are not. Yet guess who always drops in unannounced. Okay, one of them not only got in yesterday – he commited suicide in our dishwasher. Wet, stiff and WEDGED in a place my daughters had to pry him out of. (There’s one appliance who’s services we won’t be needing anymore!)
The cadaver was removed. His dignity most definitely was not preserved, which troubled one of his young rescuers (Brittany). She loves mice the way most people love kittens. I serenaded her with Aerosmith’s “Angel” while she worked. I think she mumbled something about me being twisted amidst the “Oh, God!”s.
(I just re-read this post and thought I needed to interject that Britt insisted on performing the excavation. We all have certain family duties that fall under our peculiar jurisdictions. She knew this one had her name written all over it – in an eerie, funky font.)
Afterwards, Emily and I were cleaning the dishwasher but good – then we ran it through a cleaning cycle. OF COURSE it flooded all over the kitchen floor. We’re rushing around sopping it all up, laughing like idiots. My George Foreman grill falls on my foot which hurts like the devil, but the laughter and look on Em’s face dull the pain. It’s bruised. It hurts. I think I chipped a bone. It was worth it.
Laughter’s a truly wonderful thing. They say it’s the best medicine. I say it’s more than that. It’s a sanity preserver. At least that’s how I perceive it.
Make each moment count double (even the zany ones),