Joy of Misery 10/20/22

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Today I started a project that I’ve waited far too long to begin.  I purchased a desk for my spare room that will be where my 3-D printer resides.  It’s a heavy desk, and the only way I could get the pieces upstairs was one at a time, but I did it.  The individual boards and parts sat in my hallway waiting for me to put them together, which I started today, but didn’t quite finish.  Unfortunately, in so doing, I threw out my back.  Again.

Tonight, I’m struggling with enormous pain in my lower back.  The last time I went to get my mail, I stopped by the nearby chiropractor, but she didn’t have time for me.  My back problems began in Iowa.  When I had to give up my office, I had an agreement with the dean of the college where my office was housed.  Because the winter weather was so bad, he agreed to leave my stuff in the office until the weather broke, when I would go to collect it.  When the provost learned that my stuff was still there, about a month later when the winter weather was still bad, she threw a little hissy fit and insisted that grounds box up my books and get my property out of the office despite the fact that there was no need for the office at the time anyway.  Grounds threw my books into the biggest boxes they could find, and I injured myself when I tried to haul them out of the building.  I should have sued.  I had smaller boxes ready to go for the books, but her impatience damaged my spine, an injury I struggle with to this day.

The pain is not fun, but it gets me to thinking about days that it doesn’t hurt.  I really appreciate days when my back is not bad, but I never really noticed those good days until I threw out my back.  The pain of my spine today will make me appreciate those days ahead when it has had a chance to recover.

I’m watching (as I mentioned yesterday) truly horrific movies.  But, in my collection, they’re horrific for two reasons, really.  First, they are horror movies.  Isn’t it interesting that, as human beings, we seek out things that frighten us?  Horror movies, haunted houses, dangerous activities like skydiving, and escape rooms.  We challenge ourselves to face our fears, a thrill that releases endorphins and makes us feel calm and happy when, somehow, we manage to survive. 

These horror movies are horrific for a second reason, namely, they are, well, horrific.  Most of my movies (not all of them) are grade B (or worse), poorly written, poorly directed, and just plain bad.  I have a lot of fun with these movies, and often even make up my own dialogue as the movie progresses (“here, let me show you my breasts for no apparent reason germane to the plot”).  Watching bad low-budget films like this, though, truly helps me to appreciate the large budget well-made movies that I watch as well.  Being able to contrast my beloved terrible movies with the huge blockbuster movies really helps me to notice and appreciate the efforts that go into the better films.

The point of all of this being that, sometimes, we need the bad to appreciate the good.  We need the presence of pain to appreciate the absence of it.  I think these experiences in misery help us to find happiness.

And now, as if to prove my point, my cat Star just insisted on jumping on my keyboard messing up my system.  It wouldn’t get off of “cap lock”, and my secondary keyboard characters (such as > instead of .) are all that works.  It’s fine now (obviously), but I had to reboot, and came up with a boot screen unlike anything I had seen on Windows before.  It certainly makes me happy now that it is working again.

Some people are only happy when they’re miserable.  They relish their bad fortune, and brag about it, getting great joy in their complaining.  I hope I’m not one of those people, but I have known several.  For far too long, I was living on the charity and goodwill of my friends.  It was a time of great misery to me, at least personally, to have to rely on others as I did.  And yet, because of those bad times, I certainly appreciate having vehicles, my own home, and the ability to help others now.  Which I do, probably far too much, but as much as I loved spending time with my friends, it makes me very happy to be past that period of time.

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