Croskey’s Corner: Positivity
(Originally published in January 2018)
Greetings! I hope you made it through the Holiday Season. I am sure you heard all the holiday greetings: Merry Christmas from our family! Happy Hanukkah! I hope you have a great Kwanzaa! And May the Force Be With You! Oh, wait, that last is not a holiday greeting! But as I write this, there IS a new Star Wars movie in theaters. And more than enough movie tie-ins in every type of product I can imagine. Of course, being a Baby Boomer, I am more connected to the first three Star Wars films: Star Wars – A New Hope; The Empire Strikes Back; and Return of the Jedi. (Please don’t remind me that the titles can vary for these films. Thank you.)
But don’t blame me if I confuse Star Wars and the holiday season. During the holidays, my neighbor had a cute (?) little Darth Vader figure, about 4 feet tall, standing in his front yard as a Christmas decoration. That got me thinking as to whether Star Wars could be considered a Christmas movie. Probably not. But one part of the film may be – if not exactly a “Peace on Earth” message – at least one of the characters. Or at least its title relates to Character, that is the Episode IV subtitle, A New Hope. I guess the re-emergence of a Jedi knight inspires the rebels with New Hope. Hope? Sounds like it might be connected to the recent Character quality, Resilience. And, also, to January’s Positivity, defined as “maintaining a good attitude, even when faced with difficulty.”
This year was a year requiring Positivity for the Croskey boys of Cincinnati. Our son, Greg, cut his left leg with a chainsaw. Our dog, Jazzy, got an embolism on his spinal cord and lost control of his back legs for a while; his left leg has been slower to regain strength, but he is doing great. I had a successful left hip replacement. Left leg-itis, we called it.
As is often the case, we all had to do some rehab. I learned a lot about patience, trying to remain positive, and keeping high hopes. But Greg and I – and the rest of the family – learned the most about an attitude of Hope from Jazzy. At one of Jazzy’s veterinary visits, we recounted a story of Jazzy’s recovery. My wife, Nancy, had gotten us a harness to use to take Jazzy outside. For weeks, he could not walk without the harness to lift his back legs. In fact, in order even to defecate he had to be lifted. It was a very discouraging time. One day, he got agitated in the family room because a housefly was buzzing around him. He HAD to go out right away. We took him – dragged him – to the backyard and he saw a bee or grass flea. He had always insisted on chasing insects and chomping at them in midair. Well, the bug flew away. Jazzy dug into the grass with his front legs and dragged his back legs and body around the yard, chasing the flying insect. It was riotous to watch. It was sad, too. But also, very Hopeful. I had no idea he was so strong in front and I marveled at how resourceful he was in figuring out a new way of mobility. He never gave up hope of walking, and he can run today. We laughed, and then we cried, for it gave US great Hope. So, we told the vet, the magnificent Dr. William Rueger, our story. He reflected for a minute, and said, “You know, that is one of the great things about animals. When they encounter a life-changing illness or injury, they don’t sit around and feel sorry for themselves. Or do the poor-me routine (like I had with my hip). They maintain a good attitude. They work on trying to figure out a new strategy for getting where they want to go or doing what they want to do. Humans could learn a lot about how to have a Positive attitude toward life.”
I told Dr. Rueger that he should write a self-help book for people; something like What Animals Can Teach Us About How to Live. Maybe he should write for this blog instead of me! Instead, I think he will go along as he has, making great diagnoses and providing excellent care for our pets. But I know that I am trying to learn from Dr. Rueger’s insights and Jazzy’s never-give-up attitude. I worry about stuff and I let it spiral down and sometimes I slip down with the load. I have to remember Jazzy, who never gives up HOPE because he maintains a Positive attitude. If he can’t go up and over an obstacle, he goes around. Bill, remember that!
Positivity is based on a lot of things: one’s history, the safety net of family and loved ones; how successful a problem-solver one is. But it is easier to stay Positive when one has a strong model to follow. Or, as the lyrics of the song, “High Hopes” put it:
Next time you’re found, with your chin on the ground
There a lot to be learned, so look around.
Just what makes that little old ant
Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant.
Anyone knows an ant, can’t
Move a rubber tree plant.
But he’s got high hopes, he’s got high hopes.
He’s got high apple pie, in the sky hopes.
So any time you’re gettin’ low
‘Stead of lettin’ go
Just remember that ant.
Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant
Now watching that ANT or my dog Jazzy inspires an attitude of Positivity and gives me a NEW HOPE! Happy Hopeful New Year!