Despite the troubling news that assails us each day and seems bent on convincing us we should all be the tense and unhappy recipients of the worldwide outrages it forwards, we remained confident that maybe somewhere there is still at least one American who is relaxed and happy.
Intent on locating the indomitable soul, should there still be one, we spread out across the nation and, just as we were ready to drop our shoulders and sigh with hopelessness, we saw a man walking down the street of a small resort town in the Northeast, singing to himself the song Louis Armstrong made eternally popular with his scratchy but heartfelt voice, “What A Wonderful World.”
Suspecting we might, at long last, have our man, we introduced ourselves and asked if he’d consent to an interview.
“Sure,” he replied, “but only a short one. So I can stay relaxed and happy.”
For whatever it may do to help you achieve your own peace and bliss, the interview follows. He reveals, among other things, that he concentrates, in a surprising way, on subjects that appear in the dictionary under the letter "F."
NewsLaugh: Just for the record, we understand you’re an American who’s actually relaxed and happy?
Relaxed, Happy American: Yes, I am. In fact, I’m so relaxed I can’t remember when I had a tension headache. So darn happy I smile all the time, so often, in fact, sometimes I feel like an idiot. Of course, I’m not.
NewsLaugh: You’re sure of that?
Relaxed, Happy American: Sure, I’m sure. I’m just happy to be alive – privileged, in fact, to be part of the great unfolding of life on the earth and in the universe. Seems like a big thing to be part of, if you ask me, especially since I began as a tiny sperm, swimming for its life, and an egg, wondering if and when that spirited competitor might arrive.
NewsLaugh: Interesting perspective. May I ask how, in this tense and troubled world, you’ve managed to remain relaxed and happy?
Relaxed, Happy American: Well, the first thing you need is what the French call distance.
NewsLaugh: Does that mean you just don’t pay much attention to what’s going on in the world?
Relaxed, Happy American: Heck, no! I allow a certain space for it, just so I know what’s happening, sort of like putting my hand on a coffee pot just long enough to feel the temperature, but not so long I get a blister.
NewsLaugh: Can you explain how you manage to preserve such perspective?
Relaxed, Happy American: Lots of perspective. For instance, if my body represented my life, I allocate for daily events something about the size of my index finger.
NewsLaugh: Your index finger? Well, then, how about the rest of you?
Relaxed, Happy American: Oh, that’s the wholeness of my life, start to finish, I figure, maybe eighty some years – big space, especially compared to the idea of living for the moment, which, to me, is the perfect prescription for becoming way too frazzled.
Newslaugh: What about the idea that only the present moment exists?
Relaxed, Happy American: Oh, come on, that’s like looking at your lawn and saying the only blade of grass is the one that’s currently tickling your toe.
Newslaugh: Fair enough. So how does that apply to your everyday life?
Relaxed, Happy American: Easy. I never let anything in the outside world or, for that matter, in my personal life, get bigger than the wholeness, of which every event or aspect is, logically, only a part. In fact, I never subordinate my whole life to anything, even when somebody I love is behaving incomprehensibly. Otherwise, I would be doing an injustice to it. Comprende?
NewsLaugh: Si, Senor!
Relaxed, Happy American: Muchas Gracias.
NewsLaugh: I notice you spoke a little Spanish there?
Relaxed, Happy American: So did you.
NewsLaugh: Very little. But you don’t look Hispanic?
Relaxed, Happy American: No, I don’t, and for a good reason. I’m not. But my building is staffed with people whose first language is Espanol. So I speak a little of it to get preferential treatment. For instance, my air conditioner is already ready for summer. How about you?
Newslaugh: It’s how I ingratiate myself at Mexican restaurants. But back to the taco we were talking about. Certainly, there are other things that contribute to your relaxed and happy attitude?
Relaxed, Happy American: Yes, there are. I actually feel I owe it to my life to do the best I can with my mind, my feelings, and my body – if the three can be separated – and I get so many emotional rewards from what that inspires me to do, they make me happy.
NewsLaugh: Sounds like a nice pastime. Do you ever think it may be a little self-centered?
Relaxed, Happy American: Oh, come on. There’s a difference between selfishness and enlightened self-realization, because the second one includes consideration for other people, that is, if you’d like to have any of them in your life, especially dates.
NewLaugh: OK, enough about daily events. Mind if we talk a little about the big things that can bum people out, like intimations of mortality?
Relaxed, Happy American: No problem! Hardly give it a thought. Just figure if I take good care of life, whatever made it will take good care of me, that is, if it takes care of anybody beyond just providing the stage, the actors, and the food.
NewsLaugh: Fair enough. Would you like to add anything else?
Relaxed, Happy American: Oh, one more thing. When you’re down and out, you have to concentrate on the letter “F.”
NewsLaugh: The letter “F”? Why so?
Relaxed, Happy American: If you analyze the alphabet, you find a surprising concentration of things there that make people relaxed and happy.
NewsLaugh: Such as?
Relaxed, Happy American: Oh, food, family, friends, words like fabulous and fantastic.
Relaxed, Happy American: Well, fine wine, fiction, philosophy, spelled, for consistency, with an “f.”
Relaxed, Happy American: Short interviews.