This I Believe

Gary - Carlsborg, Washington
Entered on February 13, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65

I think there is a human tendency to look back at life’s missed opportunities with regret, depression and sadness. I happen to believe they provide all too rare excuses to laugh at ourselves.

Friends periodically suggest that I could write an entertaining book based on events in my life. I guess that’s what I had in mind back in the mid-’60s as I kept a detailed diary while working as an attendant in a state mental hospital. I was constantly being challenged by the patients–both physically and emotionally–and it was incredibly stressful. My diary, though, was jam-packed with experiences that would make for a compelling and best-selling book! Then I realized that the the book had already been written. It’s title, of course: “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest!” (Guess I was the cuckoo).

Shortly thereafter I was employed at a big city TV station that offered me potential opportunities to meet countless celebrities who came through on promotional tours. I was absolutely ga-ga over pop music idols, but was way too shy and reserved to approach any of them. During one especially awkward moment, I found myself standing at a urinal in the station’s uncomfortably silent restroom immediately next to Davy Jones, the famous lead singer of The Monkees. I didn’t know what to say but felt weird for not acknowledging that I recognized him. So what did I do? I completely ignored him, of course! I couldn’t exactly say, “Hi, I’m Gary, let me shake your hand.”

Then there was the solo car trip I took from the west coast to New York, the purpose of which was to participate in the finals of a music trivia competition in which I was ranked nationally. I would be competing against 99 other contestants for fantastic prizes and 15 minutes of fame. I got to New York in plenty of time, but missed the competition entirely because I was cash strapped and couldn’t find a parking place I could afford! Leave it to a naive kid from Washington state who had never been east of Idaho to drive a boat of a car into Manhattan and expect to find a free parking place directly in front of the hotel where the event was taking place.

Years later, on my only ever trip to London–a one day drive through–I missed seeing even a single tourist attraction because I got trapped in a series of roundabouts which I spent hours attempting to escape, only to encounter them over and over again!

Sure, I’ve missed a number of opportunities that were there for the taking, but I’ve never been regretful. Looking back at these occurrences, I see that they have given me reasons to laugh at myself and others reasons to laugh along with me.

Anyone who doesn’t understand why someone would be reluctant to initiate a handshake with a famous celebrity while standing at a urinal simply doesn’t have a sense of humor.