When Hannah comes home from college for the summer and gets together with her younger sister, Emily, there is a lot of laughter, a lot of teasing. Hannah provides the appropriate setup, and Emily finishes with usually some sort of sarcastic observation of life. Kim and I enjoy sitting nearby and listening to them and I catch myself with a smile and generally laugh along with them. They’re just fun to be around.
The summer between my freshman and sophomore years in high school, I was asked to take part in a graduate study that took place through the University of Wisconsin. For my part, I volunteered at a day care center with three, four and five year old kids. I lived in Madison for about a month in the summer in a room in a house of a family rented by my parents. I supervised the playground, read stories, and took the kids swimming. I loved it. I loved being around their laughter, their smiles, the energy and their enjoyment with life.
That experience led me to work with my hometown’s recreation department where I worked for several summers as a playground leader in a sort of day camp situation. Kids would play organized games, we’d have a special day of the week, and even did arts and crafts. Again, I liked being around kids. I liked their innocence and sense of adventure.
I enjoy being around my older brothers and sisters and their families. Stories are shared. Laughter is shared. I think after a visit or two, I end up with a smile that lasts for days. As I write this, I think of this person, that story, and I end up smiling because of the memory.
I think for each of us, there are those among us who we let into our lives who bring and share joy. We seek them out because they make us feel good. They lift our spirits and raise us up. They make our life, our world better just by being around us.
And then . . .
There are those who bring us down. Their words, their actions, their attempts to engage us in the game of “Yes, but . . .” where there is only one winner, appropriately named, I would suppose: the “but.”
“The sun is out!” “Yes, but it’s supposed to rain.” “I’m thinking on taking my family to see the newly remodeled Washington Monument.” “Yes, but the traffic! And then you have to stand in line along with everyone else!” and on and on and . . . The “but” always seems to win.
In the end, one’s spirit is dampened, perhaps darkened. At the least, the excitement, the energy is zapped from us. Sadly, we might lose our enthusiasm. Our smile.
Sad to lose our smile.
Like the story of Typhoid Mary, (or Typhoid Mark) who spread disease from one person to another, I believe there are those among us who spread the disease of negativity. There are those among us who spread the disease of doubt. There are those among us who steal our energy, our strength, our joy, our spirit, our fun. There are those among us who steal our sense of well-being. Who steal our smile.
It’s easy to get caught up in it if we’re not careful. It’s easy to fall into their trap, to fall victim to their game. Perhaps they aren’t aware they do it. Perhaps they know full well what they are doing. I’ve not spent much time wondering about their psychology, their reasons, because frankly, I’d rather spend time around those who bring out the life, the love, the joy I have within me.
But it is easy to become a Typhoid Mary, a Typhoid Mark. To spread the ill of the world . . . their world. I guess I’d rather be a Pollyanna, as naive as that sounds. I think a Pollyanna is much more fun to be because one gets to spread joy and light, instead of sadness and darkness. My question to you is: which person are you? A Typhoid Mary, a Typhoid Mark, or a Pollyanna? It is a choice and a choice that can have an impact not only on you but on those around you. Something to think
about . . .
Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!