A Glimmer of Hope

When I was in high school I took a psychology class that was really interesting, so I briefly toyed with the idea of choosing that career path. I didn’t end up following thru, but I have retained a passing interest in the field, which is why I am borrowing & expanding on an idea I saw on a friend’s Facebook page. We all know that triggers are psychological stimuli that prompt recall of traumatic experiences. It can be anything that provokes fear or distressing memories, from people & places to particular dates on the calendar or times of the year to smells, tastes, sounds, & textures. Obviously a trigger is a bad thing, but what about a glimmer?? What’s a glimmer?? Well, it is essentially the opposite of a trigger. While triggers make one feel anxious & withdrawn, glimmers make us feel safe & connected. Triggers are the autonomic nervous system’s response to cues of danger. Conversely, glimmers make one feel grounded, centered, and maybe even warm & fuzzy. So the question is what are your glimmers?? Obviously I can’t answer that for you, but I thought it might be fun to identify my own glimmers. I’m all about self-reflection, and especially at this moment of my life I need to focus on whatever will take me to my happy place, even if it’s just in my mind.

 

 

 

Laughter

I write a lot about movies here at The Manofesto, and tend to have more of an interest in comedies than anything else because I enjoy laughter. Life can be difficult way more often than we’d like, and I really do believe that laughter is the best medicine. I’m sure a brain expert could explain things in great detail, but I’ve never really understood people who enjoy cop shows or medical dramas or…God forbid…”reality TV”. Those folks are just wired differently, or perhaps they’ve been blessed enough to lead a relatively stress free life and need something artificial to get their blood pumping. I don’t know…to each their own. Mark Twain went so far as to say that “Humanity has unquestionably one really effective weapon…laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution…these can lift at a colossal humbug, push it a little, weaken it a little, century by century, but only laughter can blow it to rags & atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” Big time truth from Twain. And by the way, it’s not only my own selfish desire to laugh…I enjoy the laughter of others. There’s nothing cooler than a person with a really great laugh.

 

Books

An old friend (who sadly no longer communicates with me) once observed that I essentially live in a library, which is true. In my humble Bachelor Palace I have no fewer than nine bookshelves packed with everything from classic literature to political & sports biographies to other assorted oddities. Admittedly I haven’t read every book I own, but I’m comforted by their presence and knowing I can read them whenever I choose. I honestly believe that’s one of the weird things making me so unhappy at the moment…being far away from home and my books, with the exception of a few I was astute enough to bring with me. I don’t read as much as I once did, but on the rare occasion I can force myself to stop overthinking all of the bad stuff in my life long enough for a book to sink its claws into my consciousness and distract me it is a true pleasure.

 

The Smile of a Beautiful Woman

Guys are often asked what the first thing they notice about a woman is, and of course we take note of a great rack or a fine booty. Any man that tells you otherwise is lying. However, those of us of a certain age have come to realize that the importance of such…assets…should be a bit lower in the hierarchy. I’m a big fan of a lovely smile (which includes the eyes!!). Bonus points if that gorgeous beam of happiness is emanating from a woman who has been thru some stuff because not only does she have a pretty smile but she’s tougher than a two dollar steak and has overcome adversity, which is unbelievably attractive. A woman can be as flat as the The Great Plains in the aforementioned bodily areas, but if she’s got a great smile I won’t even notice.

 

Music

I’ve always enjoyed music, but since the pandemic began and especially since I’ve been physically laid up the past couple months I’ve listened to an incredible amount of music. I certainly have my favorites, but I listen to a lil bit of everything…jazz & blues, classic rock, oldies from the 50’s & 60’s, grungy alternative from my college days, classical (I love Chopin), big band, swing music. It just depends on my mood. I am fascinated with the talent & skill it takes to play an instrument, sing well, & of course write memorable lyrics. I wish I would have been gifted with that kind of aptitude and the dedication it takes to hone the craft, but I wasn’t, so it makes me happy to listen to others do so. One of the worst byproducts of this pandemic is the loss (for now) of live music, which is such a treasure. I look forward to the opportunity to gather once at a local club or other venue when “social distancing” is a thing of the past. That’ll be a good day.

 

Words with Friends & Spades Royale

You might laugh, but allow me to explain. I’ve never been much of a gamer. I think the last game system I owned was a Sony DreamCast about 20 years ago. I’m not into first person shooters at all and always preferred sports games like Madden, but with new consoles coming out every year at $500+ and games themselves costing more than $50 I just kind of gave up. At any rate, smartphones have put a whole new spin on gaming, but I’m still pretty old school. I love Words with Friends, which is really just another brand of Scrabble. As a writer I suppose words are kind of my thing. I’ve played thousands of games of Words with Friends. I just wish more of my actual friends played as well. And then there is Spades. I’ve always enjoyed card games. Poker. Blackjack. Uno. Canasta. Rummy. It’s all good. However, I can’t properly explain how playing Spades on my phone centers & relaxes me. There’s just enough strategery & ponderation to distract me from the real world for awhile without stressing me out in a whole different way. When I bid nil and actually pull it off it’s a proud moment.

 

Puns

Humor covers a huge amount of territory. What I find funny may just make another person stare blankly into space wondering what’s wrong with me. I suspect there have been no shortage of people in my life that formed that opinion. One thing that I find particularly amusing are puns, which are defined as “a joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words which sound alike but have different meanings”. I really get a kick out of a great pun.

 

Movie Theater Popcorn

I’m not much of a snack food guy. I don’t hate potato chips, crackers, or pretzels, but you are much more likely to find me munching on candy bars & snack cakes. When I was a kid my mother used to make popcorn on top of our stove, and while I found the process fascinating I still didn’t particularly like to eat it. However, movie theater popcorn is a whole other thing. I suppose it’s because it is slathered in much more butter & salt than when it is prepared at home, rendering an otherwise healthy snack rather unhealthy. However, I suspect that it is part of the overall social experience as well. One thing we’re all learning during this time of isolation is just how important community is. Even the most dedicated homebody needs to get out & about and socialize with other human beings, and though we can inexpensively stay at home with our gigantic flat screen TVs & multiple streaming services and enjoy just about any film we choose I still think there’s something to be said for a night out at the local cineplex.

 

Sunshine

I am a firm believer in the existence of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I feel so much more alive & energetic in the spring & summer. I hate grey, overcast, rainy, cold days. Looking out the window of my current prison and seeing the sunshine is so frustrating because I can’t be outside enjoying it.

 

Writing

I suppose it comes as no surprise that a blogger enjoys writing. My issue has always been coming up with ideas. I’m like a vehicle at the top of a steep incline…all I need is a gentle push and I’m off to the races. Unfortunately inspiration is all too rare. I read a long time ago that JK Rowling was on welfare in England when the idea for Harry Potter came to her while riding the bus. I’d love to have my Harry Potter Moment. It’s not even about the fame or money (although I’d be willing to take on the task of being a bazillionaire). The idea of writing something entertaining & important enough for the masses to enjoy for generations is quite appealing. Until that happens though, know that the relatively inconsequential drivel I produce in this space means a lot to me. I’ve discovered & revealed so much about myself here, and thoroughly enjoy the process.

 

Intelligent Conversation

This is a big one. My father has always opined that there is a difference between loneliness and being alone. For many years I enjoyed my solitude. I’ve never been married, never had children, never even had a roommate in my adult life. However, I must confess that feelings of loneliness have become more prevalent the past few years. I had a great friend for two decades that would call often. He’s one of the smartest guys I know, and we would have conversations lasting a couple of hours a few times a week for years. We would talk about everything from music to politics to religion to philosophy and everything in between. He stopped communicating with me a few years ago and perhaps that’s when things started to go downhill. I have a few people in my “normal” life (when I’m at home) that I communicate with regularly, but to be blunt they just aren’t capable of holding up their end of the kind of exchange I crave. In my current circumstance…as Britney Spears might say…my loneliness is killing me. I am saddened by the scarcity of human interaction I’ve had the past couple of months, given the available technologies. Of all the glimmers listed here intelligent conversation might be the one I value the most yet it’s the one I get the opportunity to enjoy the least.

 

Old Movies

There’s a meme that I believe I’ve used here somewhere that basically states that watching our favorite movies over & over again makes us feel safe & calm amidst the craziness of the real world because we are comforted by already knowing the outcome. Safe…calm…comforted…isn’t that the very definition of a glimmer?? It really does make a lot of sense. As stupid as it may seem, I feel blessed to live in an era where we can revisit such soothing memories pretty much anytime we want, and the fact is that so much of the newer entertainment we’re offered nowadays absolutely sucks, so thank goodness we can still be distracted by the old stuff.

 

Impressions

Okay, so here’s another subset of laughter. I can be a fairly amusing guy and make people laugh occasionally, but holy cow do I have mad respect for stand-up comedians who can get up in front of an audience, hold the room in the palm of their hand, and make the whole crowd laugh hysterically. My favorite kind of comedian is one who does impressions, although I must admit that my standards are high. Anyone can try to do impressions, but few do them really well. I once opined that if I could be granted any talent or skill I think I might go with the ability to do awesome impressions. Sure it’d be cool to be a good enough singer to become a rock star like Billy Joel or Michael Buble (yes, in my world those guys are rock stars), and I’d love to be able to shred the axe like Eddie Van Halen or Stevie Ray Vaughan, but at the end of the day I think being an impressionist that can make people laugh would be tremendously cool. Lacking that particular skill though I rely on others to frost my cupcake, and rarely does anything bring me much more joy than someone who can deliver a fine impression (or two or three).

 

 

Okay, so those are a few of my glimmers, and I really need as much tranquility & delight as I can get right now. What are your glimmers?? If you’ve never thought about it maybe this is a good time to do so. Drop me some comments and share what makes you happy.

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