Tuesday, January 15, 2013


 One of the things that has dogged me throughout my life has been the source of my positive outlook. It is something that I have never really been able to explain save to say that my Mother instilled a “You Can Do It” ethic in me from the beginning. Recently though, I have seen confirmed media about happiness and its genetic component. It seems that there is such a thing as a person being born “happy”. 

Listening to a Diane Rehm program not too long ago, she interviewed a psychologist that spoke to the possibility that as much as 40% of whether you are happy or not is determined by our biology. I sat in my chair listening as hard as I could, because I definitely had thought that it was possible that I was “born” with something that kept me content and made me “happy”. I would even say that many of my questions about social interactions are generated because I am always in a good mood. 

 As a child, being excluded from and overlooked by my peers did not leave me with any complex or desire to be a part of a group or even pairing. I have never been anti-social, but when it comes to needing someone else to be content or having to share in something with another person has never been a part of my character’s dynamic. 

Whether it was reading books, or figuring out ways to play board games by myself (Paydirt, Title Bout, and Risk), I don’t have any memory of feeling “alone”. Having younger siblings were enough for me to be busy with, from bike rides with my darling brother and Jan, to playing basketball and teaching the twins to box, my need for actual interaction with people was sated. Whenever it came time for me to “do something”, it has always been the same... I got up and did what I did when I felt like it. Whenever someone encountered me it was usually as it is now, with a smile on my face. ______________________________________________________________________________

 I have taken a couple of character tests in the last 9 months or so that would indicate that I am not only happy, but “the man we all know and love”, in other words, I am the character that is described in my profile. I was actually thinking that the tests would show that I was beginning to trend down, and like Junior Seau and others who have had my condition, I was starting to take my trip into the darker side of my injury diagnosis. Instead, answering the questions as honestly as I could, the results were that I am still the person that I am familiar with. Maybe I do need a little help every now and then (hence, my script for Zoloft), but I do think and believe that I am one of those people who were born to be “happy”. 

The agonies of childhood has been underplayed in modern society... I don’t think that the terrors of children have been fully articulated, though if you REALLY read Charles Dickens from a child’s perspective, you would understand a lot better. Take those same terrors and then update them with a modern twist and set them in Metro Detroit in the late 70’s and early 80’s, and you will see why I appreciate my childhood!! I don’t think that I could say enough about the Mother I had and the job that I think she did with her children. Managing to get 5 productive citizens of the world out of the house all by herself is quite the accomplishment! Still, even with a watchful and interactive parent, many a child has lost their way growing up. 

For most of my travels, I have let my hometown be the explanation to some of sharper edges to my personality. But that isn’t what this is about. It is about how surprised people are when I do show how much I “disagree” with someone, whether it is their behavior or something they said. The reason that they are surprised is that I am like the weather in San Diego... sunny and warm, not too hot and never humid!

I cannot rightly explain “why” I am so positive. It isn’t that other feelings and emotions do not register with me... I mean, I am sure that my unhappiness has seeped into my journal, and I am well aware of not only the generalized dangers of the world along with a keen awareness of the risks that I must face as someone with brain injury. Junior Seau, who along with Dave Duerson, both suffered from CTE, which is the last stage of brain damage. The images I have seen of what happens to brain tissue calls to mind grey, spongy, swiss cheese. There have been such a degradation that there is no recovery of lost mental function. When I hit a wall in October in school, that was a warning shot off my bow. But instead of panicking, I sat down and analyzed everything that was going on at the time and instead of being overwhelmed with sadness, I girded myself up and decided on the path I would take with my life. And that is another reason why I made the decision to relocate. ____________________________________________________________________________

 It is more than luck that counts for my good fortune. I do believe that your general attitude has a lot to do with how you perceive what happens to you as well. 

The first thing I try to do is assess what just happened in whatever situation I find myself in and deal with the main issue that I have to face. For instance, when “Doug”, my mountain bike was stolen, by the time I had walked home I was essentially over the shock of my loss and was thinking how FORTUNATE I was to be able to live right on the bus line and to have a job that was well within walking distance. My grief was emotional for the personification of Doug. He was REALLY my friend here in Omaha, in a way that first car is to many drivers. But for the most part, I was already thinking through how I would deal with the theft of my bike when I went to bed that night.

I mainly characterize my good fortune as “the Longshot Effect”, after a Marvel comics character called “Longshot”, whose superpower mainly consists of thing breaking to his benefit. He is just a lucky cat, a guy who has his heart in the right place and simply enjoys his existence. In short, he has found his center and lives his life according to what it means to him. That is the best description I can come up with of him and I think that it is a pretty good one for me as well. _____________________________________________________________________________ Because a lot of the signs of brain trauma and the affiliated diseases tend to reveal themselves through behavior, I have wondered if my own behavior had taken a turn for the worse. And perhaps Nebraska would maybe object, I have to say that I have done an excellent job of holding onto “me”. I am still a good guy, always positive and someone that people like to have around. I like that very much.

Sometimes I wonder if I am going to be an old man holed up in my little apartment... and when I play that vision, the apartment is neat, pictures of grandchildren are on the walls, with various knick-knacks, and if feels happy. Yeah, I know that me and Princess are still tracking to be in Florida in our 70’s, but if this is “it” for me, I think that I have done alright!!


That corgi :) said...

I think it is good that you are a happy positive person Mark, that feels totally comfortable with yourself and being by yourself. There's not a lot of people like you out there :)

(for the record, San Diego can get just a touch humid at times :)


mrs.missalaineus said...

the things you were as a child are the things that make you able to transition through the journey of TBI- for this i honor you and commend you as one of my living heroes.


Ken Riches said...

I think it all comes down to attitude, refuse to be offended and find the positive of any situation.