What’s in your Cupboard of Life?

Do you have one of those coffee cups, likely one given to you as a prankster gift, that is black, bearing the printed observation on it: Life’s a Bitch, then You Die? I do. Cannot recall from when it came. I never drink from it, as that would seem to endorse its nihilistic proclamation with each gulp of Joe it is designed to contain. I have been temped though. Trying to keep the, uh, faith. Or something…

I do not have any other coffee cup with any others pronouncements to behold, no witticism, inspirational message or the basic astrological sign that matches the owner’s, along with that month’s specific Zodiac set of respective “characteristics” to consider. Am I really that organized? That, dependable? Willing to see the job completed, no matter what? Who believes in astrology? Likely lots and lots and even more than that do. Otherwise, why would just about every newspaper outside of the Buzzard’s Breath Bugle, circulation 207, print one each day?

Under oath, I would swear on the Bible I don’t look at my horoscope prognostication. Why would I do that? Swear on the Bible that is, because I don’t believe a word of it to be true either. But we believe what we want to believe, or choose not to believe, even if there’s a stone cold fact in front of our faces. Besides, it would seem there is little evidence that either an astrologer or even the Pope can speak with any certainty on what each of the days of our lives will bring, for better or worse, or most typically, for the usual in-between blandness that typifies most of our lives. Peaks and valleys, with long stretches of flatlands with little to remember them by.

And thank goodness for those long, listless days where not much different happens. If that’s the case, it’s better than what would seem to be a ever-increasing world of dysfunction, globally, nationally, state-wide, county-wide, village-wise or even within one’s own neighborhood that is getting to be the new normal.

Rich or poor, a wise or foolish, stuck in a ramshackle tenement or a doing your Peacock thing in a penthouse on Park Avenue, there’s plenty of dysfunction. Likely we’re all no more than one-degree removed from its source, or maybe we are the source. Not that we’ll ever own up to it. Right. It’s really an I’m okay, you’re okay world, if you can convince yourself of it. Which grants you the ability to casually (or with some dismay if not shock and horror) be an objective observer of the daily dysfunction reported on from far and wide. Turn on the news, and it’s  usually something sadly sensational, or cynically sensationalized variations on if it bleeds, it leads. You know exactly what I’m alluding to here, right? A terrorist attack here and there, over some demented religious or racial or ethnic cause. Corruption and collision crowding the corridors of power. Rip-offs, con jobs, scammers, schemers, gang-bangers, serial killers, drug wars, beheadings on YouTube, Amber Alerts, arsonists, drunk drivers who somehow survive the head-on while killing an elderly couple or a family of four, a bright young, well-educated man and elementary school teacher shot dead for–what else?–his smart phone. But wait, there’s more!

But it’s not always bad, certainly, not all of it. Or if it does sometimes appear to be, exactly, all that is brought to your attention by the content providers, you can simply not watch it, or not read about it or try simply not to think about it. Divert your eyes, ears to that shiny bright object–over there! Stick with those soap operas disguised as serious TV series (and almost with rare exception they are simply soaps, but one doesn’t have to notice that they are), or dive into a slacker comedy, a sappy but heartfelt rom-com, or 3D Pixar offering. Read a book, maybe one of those “bodice ripper” romance novels (okay, they’re for the ladies, mostly; sort of Dick and Jane grow up, get horny and…) or some new Scandinavian detective thriller. Or take up jogging. Do Yoga. Pilates. Get buffed. Go vegan. Go on a vacation. Go to a fest. Try that trendy new gastro-pub or cute little boutique shop  or get a Harley, or a decent bike and hit the trails, or become more magnanimous and contribute to Habitat for Humanity, Common Cause, Public Citizen, The Nature Conservancy, or that animal shelter or rescue some pooch or kitty; go to the conservatory (if you live near one) or simply take that walk into the woods, commune with nature, smell the flowers, toss a penny into the fountain, find your inner child and giggle at that silly squirrel.  Put that stupid  7 inch screen smart phone away–and off!–for a few hours, or that tablet or ultra thin laptop (what are you, some Master of the Universe or something, always having to be connected?).

Yeah, there are times when that black cup with the despairing slogan on it seems to call to us. The banality of evil may seem to be mounting up against the windows like snow, its drifts now packing you in. But when going through hell, you know, you simply just have to keep going…and a good cup coffee (maybe fortified with Jack, or Johnnie, or Jim)  can help.

Check that cupboard. Maybe rather than having to see “Life’s a bitch…” you have that other cup, usually a cheery colored one, that strives to be the antidote to the other’s wink-wink negativity. You know. That one, on the second shelf that says Life is a Beach! Yeah, a lovely beach, maybe an island beach with tropical fruit hanging from broad-leaved trees, and cobalt blue waters and clears skies but for some occasional fluffy white clouds that, briefly, hide the sun, but just for a few moments, then move on, leaving you in languid repose, with not a concern in the world, with the love of your life at your side, knowing that heaven is this place on earth, and what could possibly take that away.

I’m guessing it would be ruined by having to wake up from your Sleep Number bed and face reality. Then make some coffee. Pick a nondescript cup though. Bitch or Beach, you hope for the best, which quite possibly has already come and gone, or depending on luck, fate, guile and gumption, is still on its way.

Seeing is believing, and when that doesn’t work, convince your self that believing is seeing. Life is, after all, just a  state on mind, mind you.

Enjoy that coffee.


About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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