Sunday, April 22, 2012

Big, Fat, Hairy Deal

When we were young, we used to love the Garfield comic strip.  Jim Davis's lovably cantankerous cat was a source of great amusement for us, and it was the one cartoon that would make my dad laugh out loud...and for a long time.  Daddy would get red in the face, wheeze for a moment (which always preceded his laughter) then burst out laughing.  I loved when that happened!  One strip in particular that caused this response stuck with me all of these years...

In it, Jon, Garfield's owner, says to Garfield, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life."  To which Garfield replies, "Big, fat, hairy deal."  Daddy couldn't get a grip over that one.

I've read many inspirational books over the last year.  There is generally a common theme.
Adjust your perspective.
Live with gratitude.
Trust God.
Seek His counsel.
Know that your attitude affects your life's outcome.
Don't compare yourself to others.

Yada, yada, yada - you get the idea.
 
Further, they all generally encompass the idea of "starting now" to live like this.  In other words, "today is the first day of the rest of your life."  Some authors pen this phrase and some simply infer it.  The problem is that every time I read it or sense it coming, my subconscious mind says aloud, "Big, fat, hairy deal."  Now, although this makes me chuckle to myself - it is a warm memory after all - I can't help but feel a bit frustrated with myself for letting it leak in.  It's kind of ruining the inspirational message for me.  But truly, even though I've started to see it as a kind of humorous pain, I really don't want to let it go.  It's too familiar...and comforting...and funny...for me brush to the side.

There are many familiar, comforting things I don't want to let go, I've realized.
Each time I draw myself up, stick out my chest and start to change, these old and familiar companions accost me and give me an excuse to stay in my rut:
"It's really time to change my ideas and approach to food." (But you're Italian, Cynthia.  You live to eat!)
"I can't wait to start freelance writing on a regular basis."  (Wow, SO many steps to take before that can happen.  Boy, it's gonna take forever to get going.)
"I trust God's plan for me and my family."  (Why isn't God moving in my timeline?  Why aren't I moving forward?  Why is there so much suffering and turmoil all around me?)
"I'm going to take a big leap from now on in all that I do."  (You really aren't very daring...or talented for that matter.  Best to just get the laundry done and stop thinking about it.)

You see?  I'm up against a bunch of "big, fat, hairy deals," none of which are amusing or comforting.  Just familiar - and all together sad.

But today I realized that I am aware of them now.  I see the signs around me.  Things begin to change for the better then, just as I think life can't get any more promising, 17,000 things attack to bring me back down again.  I get a migraine, my children frustrate me, my dad gets sick, my outfit looks terrible.  But today, for once, I did not slide.  Today, truly, the first day of the rest of my life, I started to change it.  I recognized the signs and what was needed to turn the tide, and I did it.  I turned a grateful heart to God; praised Him for His timing, His ways, and His path then waited.  It was not perfect.  I was not at peace the entire day.  But I hung in there and kept firing back. Then it seemed, as quickly as they appeared, the old negatives began to melt to the sides, and I began smiling in spite of myself.  Finally!!  I figured it out.  I know the way out.

And you know what?  It WAS a big, fat, hairy deal!

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