Sunday, August 22, 2010

Make like your cat, and get happy

Several pizza joints in my town have adopted an interesting marketing strategy. They find an enthusiastic young man (I suppose it could be a young woman, but I haven't seen any), put him close to a busy thoroughfare with a big sign, and have him garner attention by any means necessary. And boy howdy, can these guys get attention.

The guy in charge of the CiCi's sign raps. He puts his sign against a telephone pole, and using a mic unconnected to any power source, makes like Eminem. Sometimes, he accompanies himself with his Guitar Hero guitar, also unplugged. If you roll your window down, as almost everyone stopped at the light does, you can hear that he's not rapping someone else's lyrics. He's freestylin' baby!

I was with my eldest and his friend a while back, and when we pulled up beside him, they hung out the windows yelling, "Woooo! Go baby! Yeah!"

When we pulled away, my son's friend said, "I love that guy!"

A lot of people feel the same way. The kid gets heckled, but he also gets those appreciative shout-outs. Either way, he just keeps on rapping. I don't think he hears any of it. He's in the moment. Over time as I've been stopped at that light, I've heard fewer heckles and more appreciative shout-outs. It's hard to dis someone who is experiencing so much joy and who doesn't care what anyone else thinks.

Honestly, there are days when I envy that kid rapping on the corner. His corner is next to Wal-Mart, so usually when I see him, I've either just finished grocery shopping, or I'm on my way. I hate that particular chore, so I'm not in my joyful place when I'm coming or going. I like seeing him because he reminds me that joy can be found in anything...even advertising pizza with a giant sign in 100 degree weather.

I've noticed that people fall into one of two general categories: those who look for the joy in life and those who look for the pain. Everything contains it's opposite, so it's easy to find either one in any given day.

My job as a teacher holds the potential for joy or for aggravation. I usually find which ever I'm looking for when I walk into my classroom. The same goes for my writing. If I sit down with the attitude that I'm going to find the words, I usually do. I might change them later, but I don't come up empty. When I expect to struggle, I do.

People are trickier. Sometimes, even when I'm looking for the best in them, they let me down. Hello? Anyone else trying to raise kids? The fact remains that I control my reaction to that disappointment. Do I beat them over the head with their shortcomings? Or do I lift them up and move forward? What reaction do I want when I let someone down?

I've been thinking a lot about the joy and passion in life. It's so easy to let outside factors control our attitudes. In the end, I have control over whether I find joy or pain, passion or ennui, in the everyday moments in life.

We can all take a lesson from the CiCi's sign guy....or from our pets. I found this video Criss Cox's blog. It illustrates my point beautifully.

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