When You’re Down and Out
By Patrick F. Cannon
Some of you may remember the song that starts: When you’re down and out, lift up your head and shout “It’s going to be a great day!”
I suggest that, instead of agonizing over Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, that you find something else to occupy your waking moments, and perhaps your dreams as well.
If you’re a Chicagoan, glory in the fact that both the Cubs and White Sox are in first place and could even face each other in the World Series (although, to be fair, the Cubs have priority). The last time the Cubs started this well, they won the 1907 World Series (and 1908s too). Think Anthony Rizzo, not Donald Trump; think Chris Sale, not Hillary Clinton. And, of course, Chicagoans are ever hopeful about the Bears. This could be their year too.
Wherever you live, there are places to go and things to see, sometimes even for free. When was the last time you took a stroll in the park or a drive in the country? How about visiting that little town that has an annual strawberry festival? You can count cows on the way. If you have excess energy, why not rent a canoe and paddle up and down some nearby river? If no one’s around, you could even talk to a duck or two.
You’re reading this, so I guess you at least read a little. How about tackling something more substantial and consequential? Have you ever actually read War and Peace? How about the great Dickens’s novels? I’ve been rereading some Hemingway and can recommend his earlier work, especially the short stories. If you haven’t read Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, now’s your chance. You might also want to read some history, to put today’s shenanigans in some perspective. I’m currently reading Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton (the inspiration for the hip hop musical that’s all the rage). If you read it, you’ll discover that the Founding Fathers had the same flaws that most of us have, but they also had towering intellects grounded in sound educations. What politician in this sad year compares?
By all means, go to the movies. Seek out some that actually deal with the human condition, instead of the many that plop you into some dystopian future or a creepy city with grown men running around in body suits and capes. Earlier this year, I saw Brooklyn. and I can recommend it highly. Or maybe you could seek out some of the great screwball comedies of the 1930s and 1940s. They were stylish and funny without recourse to the eff word. By the way, who decided that profanity was funny in itself?
Almost every city in America of any size has an art museum. In Chicago, we’re blessed with the Art Institute, the country’s second largest. When was the last time you went? While the Modern Wing has its share of goofy stuff, most of what the museum owns will reassure you that men and women have been capable of sublime inspiration. And don’t just look at the paintings and sculpture. Seek out the galleries that hold the Institute’s collection of oriental objects, including jades and porcelains hundreds of years old. Simply looking at them will fill you with joy.
Have a great day!
Copyright 2016, Patrick F. Cannon