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The Light At The End April 27, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Humor, Mindfulness, Writing & Writers.

So many writers, poets, and artists are tortured souls.

Fractured like light passing through a prism.

(Or prison.)

It’s almost as if, looking for truths to share, they see the vast gaping holes between “illuminated windows.”

It becomes “too much” to bear
They cease to care
Why bother? Why share?
Shadows fill the air
Swamped with despair
No light anywhere

Except at the end . . . of the very last tunnel


That’s depressing.

Rather like biting into a poisoned apple.

Filled with worms.

OK.  Let’s try this . . . which Rik Scott shared with me yesterday:

How many existentialists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Two.  One to screw it in, and one to observe how the lightbulb itself symbolizes a single incandescent beacon of subjective reality in a netherworld of endless absurdity reaching out toward a maudlin cosmos of nothingness.  ~ Anonymous

Feel better?
No?  Me neither.

Poor Anonymous . . . being a tortured-existentialist-artist is a heavy cross to bear in life ~ especially with the weight of the world (and the cosmos!) on one’s shoulders.

Tigger-Looking-At-His-TailOK . . . third time’s the charm.  A few Sapid quotes (also from Rik) to illuminate the recesses, switch on the light, and reframe our perspective:

* It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy.  It is what you think about. ~ Dale Carnegie

* When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us. ~ Helen Keller

* The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past  better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be. ~ Marcel Pagnol

* The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller

One last parting thought:

Inch by inch, life’s a cinch.  Yard by yard, life is hard.

Aah . . . that’s better!


1. Paula Tohline Calhoun - April 27, 2012

Yay! Am I really the first to comment? WOW!

I love this post. It says a great deal about the nature of happiness – all of it true. One further thought about it, and one which I say to my family members frequently: Happiness is a CHOICE! Nothing can make you happy or unhappy unless you choose for it to do so. Your happiness is in your own hands. Thank goodness! Otherwise there are plenty of people out there who could make me very unhappy! (Or at least try to!)

Ah! The wonderful light bulb joke. Among my favorite joke forms. I wonder who started it all and how long they have been around?!?

Can’t quit this comment without telling you one of my favorites:

Q: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Only one. But the light bulb has to really want to be changed.

Have a happy day, Nancy!

P.S. How is Tigger? (You might have already told us – I haven’t checked my e-mail for your posts yet today.)

nrhatch - April 27, 2012

Thanks, PTC! It is, indeed, a choice. And that’s my FAVORITE light bulb joke:

As far as Tigger goes, we got good, not great, news at the Vet yesterday (hence the reason for THIS peptalk):

* Tigger’s temperature (102.3) is normal. He’ll remain on the antibiotics for 2 more weeks.

* His glucose reading is better (321 . . . down from 379) but not normal. The vet gave us 2 more weeks to see if we can get his blood sugars to a normal range (between 100 and 220). If not, we’ve agreed to give insulin a try.

Fingers (and paws!) still crossed!

Paula Tohline Calhoun - April 27, 2012

Whew! I’m breathing better for Tigger, but keeping those paws crossed – Justin is too! He probably has a better cat channel than I do – but that doesn’t keep me from sending the good thoughts through mine!

Tell Tigger that Justin says: “ME-Hi-OWWWW!”

nrhatch - April 27, 2012

Justin sounds like he speaks Mandarin. 😆

Thanks, PTC & Justin! Good wishes conveyed to our little guy.

Paula Tohline Calhoun - April 27, 2012

Justin speaks any language that will get him some food. Or a skritch on the head.

nrhatch - April 27, 2012

That’s the hardest thing for all 3 of us right now . . . phasing out the treats that we enjoyed giving Tigger after he got a scritch on the head.

But if we can get his blood sugar down without insulin shots, it will be worth it.

2. sufilight - April 27, 2012

I am the second to comment (unless you have another reader posting while I am typing,:) ). Happiness is definitely a choice, how we percieve life. We can have happiness in the midst of the ups and downs of life.

I like the quote “inch by inch, life’s a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard.” this is why staying in the present works better.

Read the comments about Tigger was going to ask you. From the numbers it looks like he is not getting worse, has had improvement, so that’s good news!

nrhatch - April 27, 2012

Indeed, Marie! We can only live happily~ever~after on a moment by moment basis.

Tigger is “better” . . . not best. But we are moving in the right direction. And that, for now, is ENOUGH.

3. suzicate - April 27, 2012

Paula is correct – happiness is a choice. We need not torture ourselves with unrealistic expectations and just enjoy the journey of art and life!

nrhatch - April 27, 2012

Yesterday (just for a bit) my thoughts got away from me and I started tilting at imaginary windmills of my own making.

Then I read Kate’s post. And Robyn’s post. And Rik’s quotes. Collectively, they cleared the cobwebs.

4. You Were Born To Succeed - April 27, 2012

I love this post, especially the light bulb joke. Those existentialists just don’t get that all they have to do is change their perspective and they can change their lives. Are there any existentialists left out there? And do they really want to be happy?

Good to hear that Tigger is doing better. I’d be glad to do some remote healing on him if you’d like.


nrhatch - April 27, 2012

Thanks, Nancy! I’ve been sending healing thoughts Tigger’s way all day . . . but the more the merrier.

Do you need a picture of him? I can’t provide his birthdate . . . or even his birth month. He was born in the summer of 2004 ~ June, July, or August.

As for the Existentialists . . . I tumble into their ranks on my darker days, convinced that we must each develop our own subjective reality and raison d’etre in the absence of a grand scheme or blueprint.

Other days, I’m in the flow of life. Chaos recedes. Harmony prevails. Peace surfaces. Happiness reigns. 😎

You Were Born To Succeed - April 27, 2012

We do have those days! Ugh! I don’t need a picture of Tigger, since it is on your post about him (if that is, indeed, he).

nrhatch - April 27, 2012

I prefer the comfort of the “go with the flow” days to the discomfiture of the dark days.

That’s him!

5. Andra Watkins - April 27, 2012

Happiness is a choice. A daily decision. Sometimes, a minute-by-minute deal. I’ll keep everything crossed that your measures to lower Tigger’s blood sugar work in the next couple of weeks, Nancy.

nrhatch - April 27, 2012

There are days that happiness is a minute-by-minute battle with thoughts pulling us “out of the now” and into the sea of chaos, worries, and confusion. We must CHOOSE to step back from the abyss and regain a wider perspective.

Thanks, Andra! We hope that Tigger gets from HERE to THERE in the next two weeks. 😀

6. kateshrewsday - April 27, 2012

Nancy, what a fabulous post. I love the Helen Keller quote: and she should know. Thanks for the link…and crossing fingers for Tigger and that glucose count to come right down.

nrhatch - April 27, 2012

Thanks, Kate. Last night (while running on empty) my thoughts got away from me and I started tilting at imaginary windmills with predictable results ~ it is IMPOSSIBLE to slay imaginary dragons.

Then I read your post. And Robyn’s post. And Rik’s quotes. Collectively, they cleared the cobwebs. Thanks for that!

Tigger seems much improved, a bit perkier, more playful, good appetite . . . so we remain cautiously optimistic. (Except when the windmills get the best of us). 😉

7. Pocket Perspectives - April 27, 2012

Lots of special quotes and reminders in here today…I especially like that first Helen Keller quote…well, all 5 of those last quotes are terrific…..thanks!
And Tigger?…sounds like progress…cats have remarkable abilities to heal, especially when so much love is coming their way…. come on Tigger…inch by inch!

nrhatch - April 27, 2012

Thanks, Kathy! Cats that have ceased producing insulin often go into remission . . . with the diabetes retreating and energy restored. So we hold out hope for Tigger . . . one inch at a time.

Pocket Perspectives - April 27, 2012

My daughter J, who nurtured Starbuck back to health, says she thinks that the website of Dr. Lisa Pierson has good information. http://www.catinfo.org/?link=felinediabetes J really researches things, so I think it might be worth taking a look.

nrhatch - April 27, 2012

Thanks, Kathy! Pixie shared the same link with me to Lisa’s articles. We found them very helpful. Our vet also suggested we check out another Pet Lover at Texas A&M (whose name escapes me at the moment).

8. Carl D'Agostino - April 27, 2012

It takes takes more than 2 existentialists. You need 350 Russians to understand the futility of even owning a light bulb because you get electricity dependent on a fickle, unjust and unfair God’s whims of the moment.

nrhatch - April 27, 2012

Aah . . . exactly why the idea of a personified God holds no appeal for me. 😉

9. Alannah Murphy - April 27, 2012

Aw you have a sick kitty? I hope he gets better soon!

nrhatch - April 27, 2012

Yes, our little buddy has had a rough couple of weeks . . . and isn’t out of the woods yet. Fingers (and paws!) crossed that things continue on an upward trajectory.

Alannah Murphy - April 27, 2012

Poor Tigger, I will keep my fingers crossed that he will recover 🙂

nrhatch - April 27, 2012

Thanks, Alannah. The more good wishes . . . the better!

10. Team Oyeniyi - April 27, 2012

Lovely thoughts, Nancy, and not just for artists. We are pretty sure Mr O has PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) which is not at all surprising given the circumstances. In fact, the psychologist I was seeing during “the battle” warned me of the probability. I’m not writing about yet, as we need to get through the last assessment phase, but many of the “third time” quotes, in fact all of them, are quite applicable, I think.

Great to hear your little buddy is on the mend! I will catch up on other posts later today, all being well!

Now, did I make number 10?

Team Oyeniyi - April 27, 2012

I forgot to say thank you for the blog love! Too early in the morning!

nrhatch - April 27, 2012

Your post is relevant to many writers, bloggers, poets, and artists . . . sunny days abound, but clouds (at times) obscure the sun.

PTSD arises when we are under significant and sustained stress ~ learning how to de-stress with exercise, meditation, and breathing may relieve some of the residual anxiety.

Best of luck to Mr. O as he puts his ordeal “behind him.” And thanks for your good thoughts for Tigger.

Team Oyeniyi - April 28, 2012

Thank you Nancy. I felt sure others must feel the same.

11. Jackie L. Robinson - April 27, 2012

Oh, what a great ending to this post! The first bit felt so depressing, you’re right! Tortured souls? There’s a journey, yes, but the torture truly comes from our own thoughts – Dale Carnegie is right.

My favorite – the final Helen Keller quote – ‘they must be felt with the heart.’ Oh so true. xo

nrhatch - April 27, 2012

Thanks, Jackie. The inspiration for this post came at me from a triumverate of sources . . . coalescing into a reminder for me:

“Don’t believe everything you think.”

Allowing the peace within to surface banishes many “a dark night.”

Jackie L. Robinson - April 27, 2012

Timely sharing. xo

nrhatch - April 27, 2012

It’s such a common problem . . . following our thoughts in the “wrong” direction when we encounter stubborn challenges.

12. jannatwrites - April 28, 2012

I love the Helen Keller quotes – she was an amazing woman!

I don’t get why ‘artsy’ types are expected to be tortured souls. It’s possible to depict angst without living it day in and day out 🙂

nrhatch - April 28, 2012

I’ve never “expected” it of artsy types . . . but I’ve bumped into it a time (or two hundred).

You’re right, Janna. It is possible to shine a spotlight on the realities of the world without being consumed by its negatives . . . we need only be mindful of the thoughts we think.

Aah . . . that’s better.

13. Three Well Beings - April 28, 2012

I think you are a very real poet-philosopher…and proof that self-torture is not required! You have deep thoughts without the permanently furrowed brow! Nice to know you! 🙂 Debra

nrhatch - April 28, 2012

Thanks, Debra.

I majored in Philosophy (and Economics) at W&M and took many philosophy of law classes while getting my J.D.

I am MINDFUL of the need for MINDFULNESS because I realize from personal experience how easy it is to follow our thoughts down a slippery slope . . . creating UNNECESSARY suffering in the process.

The Mind is a wonderful servant and a terrible master. We must use it as a tool that WE manipulate . . . rather than allowing our thoughts to manipulate us.

14. bluebee - April 28, 2012

Dale Carnegie’s quote gets to the crux if it – but are we always totally in control of what we think about, or do genetics, environment, circumstance govern at least some of that?

nrhatch - April 28, 2012

If I say, “Don’t think of Pink Elephants!” . . . what immediately pops into your mind?

Pink Elephants?

Are you in control of that thought? Probably not.
Can you STOP thinking about something you no longer want to think about?

Yes. With practice.

The easiest way to “evict” intrusive thoughts is to give your mind something else to think about . . . say, Purple Giraffes. 😉

Last night, I got in bed and immediately started thinking of a less-than-stellar situation that seems rather “hopeless” . . . thinking about those thoughts at that hour of the night would NOT have advanced the ball for anyone.

So, I changed the channel by counting backwards and following my breath until I fell asleep.

Aah . . . that’s better!

15. Naomi - April 28, 2012

LOL! Love this post, Nancy, starting with your hilarious imagery of biting into a wormy apple. Next I was reminded of “How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb? Only one, but the lightbulb must really, really want to change” 😀 And thank you for the wonderful inspiration to end it off. Hope Tigger is doing better, XO

nrhatch - April 28, 2012

That has to be the best lightbulb joke ever! 😀 And it’s so relevant to this post.

Most of the suffering of “tortured artists” is self-created. They can “change their minds” and how they interact with the world anytime they want . . . but they have to want to change. 😀

Because, like getting to Carnegie Hall, it takes lots of practice!

16. sweetdaysundertheoaks - April 28, 2012

Good Morning Nancy! I am making “happy” be my choice for each moment of the day. Sometimes it takes a bit of working at the choice but I just remember, I am ok in this moment 🙂

I think the numbers look good for The Tigger and I think in two weeks his numbers will be within normal range or close!

nrhatch - April 28, 2012

Our Island Library is closing today for the summer ~ so it can be remodeled. Yesterday, I tried to check out the Zen Living book to read it again. No luck. Not there. Someone else is reaping its benefits! 😀

Here’s to making HAPPY our choice . . . on a moment by moment basis. Be Here Now.

I’m glad the numbers moved in the right direction . . . and we are cautiously optimistic that the new food will cause a more significant drop in the next two weeks. Thanks for your good thoughts on our little buddy’s behalf.

17. Lynn Fang (@UpcycledLove) - April 28, 2012

lol! Love the existentialism quote. And yes! Happiness is a choice from within. When I start thinking negative, hopeless thoughts, I start counting or saying overly positive things enough to bring me back to a less hopeless state of mind. It works! 🙂

nrhatch - April 28, 2012

Yes. Exactly. The more mindful we are about monitoring our thoughts throughout the day (and night) . . . the more quickly we can get them back on the “right track.” 😀

18. Tori Nelson - May 1, 2012

I am focusing on the inch by inch today! Love this post. Perspective really is everything 🙂

nrhatch - May 1, 2012

Good for you, Tori! Thanks for your amusing Honeymoon tale!

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