Comic Belief: Ups and Downs of Life

Sometimes I get down — so low that I could play racquetball on the curb. It helps to understand why you’re down. It might even help change DOWN to UP. Let me explain.

These things can bring you D.O.W.N.:

DUMB ACTS — Wearing your baseball hat backwards to a job interview unless you want to be an umpire, and standing between a dog and a fire hydrant are dumb acts. A tourist driving down a country road came to this sign: “Road Closed — Do Not Enter.” The road ahead looked good, and being an experienced traveler, he ignored the sign and pressed on. Five miles later he came to a washed-out bridge and had to retrace his route. When he reached the same warning sign, on the back it said: “Welcome Back, Stupid!”

OTHER PEOPLE — People are irritating. I had a secretary who wouldn’t answer the phone. I asked why and she responded, “Why should I? Nine out of 10 times it’s for you.”

Other people can also be grumpy. The seven dwarfs had a great life. They worked in a diamond mine and whistled while they worked, yet one of them was Grumpy. Nearly every crowd has a Grumpy.

WORLD — The world is often a difficult place to live: The mate that snores is the one who falls asleep first, and the line you’re in is the longest and the slowest.

NEW THINGS in your life can also bring you down. Change is difficult. The standard typewriter keyboard is an example. The most frequently used keys are located as far apart as possible to slow down your typing speed. Keys on the machines of the 1800s jammed if the typist were too fast. About 40 years ago, a keyboard called the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard was developed, with most frequently used keys in the home row. The right hand does more work (56 percent) than the left, and tests show that typists greatly increase their speed (up to five times) with no increase in errors. Still, we labor with a keyboard designed to be inefficient. Why? Change is difficult.

Lucy told Charlie Brown, “I’d like to change the whole world, Charlie Brown.” And Charlie Brown said, “Where would you start, Lucy?” She said, “I’d start with you.”

Yes, lots of things can bring us down, but we don’t have to stay down. Let’s look at the same word (down) from an UP perspective.

DUMB THINGS we do can make us smarter. A coach once said, “The reason one play succeeds is that the play before it failed.” Failure can make us wiser. Every good skier was once a bad skier. Every good speaker was once a bad speaker. Every golfer … well … is still a bad golfer. The principle still works.

OTHERS can irritate you, but the irritations are necessary. Disorganized people hate organized people. I have piles, and they have files. But guess what? When I can’t find it in my piles, I need someone with files to insure I have what I need. We need others in order to be successful. Your weaknesses are often others’ strengths. Others can build you up.

The WORLD that weighs you down can make you stronger. Difficulties develop you. Lifting weights strengthens you. The weights suddenly feel lighter, but they haven’t changed; your muscles have become stronger.

NEW things are good things. Years ago, a bishop on the East Coast paid his annual visit to a small religious college. Engaging in after-dinner conversation with the college president, he said that the millennium could not be long in coming since everything in nature had been discovered and all inventions had been made. The president disagreed, saying that human beings would be flying through the skies like the birds within a relatively short time. “Nonsense!” shouted the bishop. “Flight is reserved for the angels!” The bishop’s name was Wright. He had two sons: Orville and Wilbur.

New things — ideas, ways, people and situations — may cause stress. But on the positive side, they can get us out of our comfort zone. New things are the basis of life. UP means that Ultimately there is a Purpose.

A tribe of Indians lived next to a swift and dangerous river that swept away any who fell in. A hostile group attacked them, and their only way of escape was to cross the river. They placed their children, wounded and elderly on their backs and trudged into the river. To their surprise, the extra weight steadied their footing, and they safely reached the other side.

Circumstances that you believe are keeping you DOWN may be what allow you to climb UP. Your burden may actually be your blessing. Your down could really be up!