Dancing in the hurricane

I am rapidly approaching one of those so-called milestone birthdays.

I am rapidly approaching one of those so-called milestone birthdays.

The kind that end in a five or a zero; or in this case one that begins with a five and ends with a zero. I am only days away from turning half a century old. As my grandma used to say whenever something amazed her, feature that!

There used to be a bit of currency to growing old; if nothing else you were the one the younger people would phone when they wanted to know how to boost a battery or bake a cake. Today they just Google it.

Nevertheless I have gleaned a few lessons from almost 50 years of living and Google be darned, I am going to share them with you now.

Trust the professionals. Don’t cut your own hair. Seriously. Don’t do it.

Even if your bangs are driving you nuts and you’re crazy busy. I know, I know, it seems like such a simple procedure, but it isn’t. Take the time and go to the hairdresser.

He’s a professional. You’re not.

Don’t trust the professionals. Plant a carrot. Pesticides, herbicides, GMO (genetically modified organisms), shipping fuels…it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose your faith in the food system.

Fortunately, the answer is simple; plant a carrot. Or some kale. Or some potatoes. Or all three.

You can march, write petitions, post pithy quotes on Facebook but it won’t amount to a hill of beans until you plant one.

A hill of beans of that is. You don’t need to grow a market garden but at least make space for growing one vegetable on your deck or even a pot of lettuce on the windowsill.

It’s important that you know what home grown food tastes like (incredible) and how to grow it (not that hard).

Nothing else will contribute more to the health of your family and the world. And if the world goes wonky, you at least have the skills to feed yourself. You can’t eat your smart phone.

Trust me. If you can’t say anything nice…don’t say anything at all. Being kind means never having to say you’re sorry.

We’re all just stumbling along through this human experience, doing the best we can. We say things we don’t mean and we say things we do mean, but wish we didn’t.

As the saying goes, being angry, judgemental or refusing to forgive is like consuming rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.

While you’re moaning, clutching your stomach and counting all the rat’s offences, the rat is out there snuffling through garbage and doing other fun rat stuff without a thought about you. Let it go and find your own garbage to snuffle through. You’ll be happier and so will everyone around you.

Ah, happiness.

That elusive beast. After food, shelter and health is there anything we pursue so relentlessly?

We are so sure we will find it just as soon as we buy our own house or find the right relationship or get the job of our dreams.

Once we lose weight, afford that vacation or whiten our teeth.

As soon as we organize our house, prioritize our lives and pay off our mortgage. When our kids are happy, when the test results come back in our favour, when our hearts mend, then we will be happy. No we won’t.

Happiness is not a result, a product or an outcome, it’s a choice.

It’s no different than selecting a pair of socks in the morning.

Happiness is something you pick up and put on whether you feel like it or not. Happiness is not waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain.

If you wait for sunshine and rainbows before allowing yourself to feel happy, you are going to die miserable.

Life is stormy. It’s one damn thing after another. So get out there in the hurricane and dance, baby, dance.

And when you notice your bangs need a trim, for heaven’s sakes, put down those scissors and dance yourself down to the salon.

Fifty years of living, and that’s all I’ve got. But it’s enough.

Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from the Peace River country. You can catch up on past columns by visiting www.shannonmckinnon.com