Win By Losing

In my former life of working eight-to-five, I would have given my eyetooth to sit outside on my backporch steps and simply watch it rain, hear it rain, smell it rain. I suppose when I was a working stiff I could have stared out my office window to see the rain landing on the parking lot of the administration building six floors below. But my working-woman life was ever so helter skelter. Watching the rain would have been a luxury too far, and hey, babe, don’t even think about it because remember your office windows don’t open anyway—so, get back to work!

Now I can sit out back as it rains, hear the drone of traffic in the distance, and remind myself how freeing it is to choose what I do, to smell the rain as it lands on leaves and stones, and to hear a few birds who have decided this rain is about to end.

Rain itself is dear. We have runs of it when we get way too much, then far too little. Tennessee is a land of gentle mountains that are too old to give the taller peaks a run for their money. You cocky Rocky Mountains, you traffic-jam-of mountain-climbers Mount Everest, you erupting volcano Mount St. Helen’s. Over here in the slow lane, we can watch it rain.

I’ve been musing about losing for a few years now. Being a thinking woman on this planet has given me advanced field study in the fine points of losing. Points of reference:

Live? Love? Leave?
  • The sociopathic first husband who stalked me for 8 years after our divorce.
  • Being sexually harassed at work by my boss’s boss, but when the man (finally) leaves to take another job, becoming the target of his enemies.
  • Being forced to retire a year after being awarded an outstanding employee award for helping my employer raise $1 billion.
  • Watching the loser of the popular vote win the Electoral College in 2016, and my father die three weeks later. And finding that the greater tragedy was the former rather than the latter because Daddy is now out of pain and suffering and our country and world is not.

Recently I have found solace in the truth and wisdom of the book I bought for my nephew who has embarked on a new job. Despite its title, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, this is a book to be reckoned with. Its author Mark Manson parses what is important in life from the dregs of what is not.

An impromptu “floral” display at a London Underground station.

Look, this is how it works. You’re going to die one day. I know that’s kind of obvious, but I just wanted to remind you in case you’d forgotten. You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get fucked.

Excerpt From
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
Mark Manson
https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-subtle-art-of-not-giving-a-f-ck/id1071409887

Hello, World. I am Anna, and I have been giving a f*ck about way too much that has not been worth my time.

However, in my stead has always been my Daddy’s hard-fought wisdom that little things mean a lot. And he underlined the importance of it in his sentimental 1950’s generation way, by playing us the 45 rpm record Little Things Mean A Lot by Kitty Kallen, and, of course, we—Daddy, my sister, and I—all sang it together. Loudly.

Another Kitty, Cadi Kitty exploring the bedside lamp.

Blow me a kiss from across the room
Say I look nice when I’m not
Touch my hair as you pass my chair
Little things mean a lot

Give me your arm as we cross the street
Call me at six on the dot
A line a day when you’re far away
Little things mean a lot
Don’t have to buy me diamonds and pearls
Champagne, sables or such
I never cared much for diamonds and pearls
‘Cause honestly honey, they just cost money

Give me your hand when I’ve lost the way
Give me your shoulder to cry on
Whether the day is bright or gray 
Give me your heart to rely on
Send me the warmth of a secret smile 
To show me you haven’t forgot
For always and ever, now and forever
Little things mean a lot

Give me your hand when I’ve lost the way
Give me your shoulder to cry on
Whether the day is bright or gray
Give me your heart to rely on
Send me the warmth of a secret smile 
To show me you haven’t forgot
That always and ever, now and forever
Little things mean a lot

Songwriters: Carl Stutz / Edith L Calisch
Little Things Mean a Lot lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Mark Manson reminded me of my core belief in little things when he wrote:

You will have a growing appreciation for life’s basic experiences: the pleasures of simple friendship, creating something, helping a person in need, reading a good book, laughing with someone you care about.

Sounds boring, doesn’t it? That’s because these things are ordinary. But maybe they’re ordinary for a reason: because they are what actually matters.

Excerpt From
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
Mark Manson
https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-subtle-art-of-not-giving-a-f-ck/id1071409887

What matters? In the grand tradition of my father’s ranking of important things (such as movies and people instead of money and material things), my husband Kurt and I took our 19-month-old grandson for his first ever experience in a movie theater. The movie? An hour-long classic set of Bugs Bunny cartoons at Knoxville’s only independent theater, Central Cinema . . . and it’s within walking distance of our home.

Rain, movies, smiling into the eyes of my grandchildren, learning how to say no to what is not important in lieu of what is. And I have never been good at saying no.

So yes, I have been losing all my life, but I have also been winning. I have been extraordinary and I strive to be ever-so (in the way of little things and tiny humans) ordinary. To the wee ones—and to the wee one in us all.

~ Anna // 5-31-2019

About aamontgomery

Seeing new possibilities in everyday things
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