Years ago I saw a Monty Python movie called The Life of Brian. A friend of mine, a Monty Python affectionado, said I “had to see it” because it was one of the best movies ever made. He said it was so funny he didn’t stop laughing from the opening scene until long after he left the theater.
The movie is funny, in a very uneven, Monty Python way.
The ending jingle, a song called “Look at the Bright side of life”, sung at the end by the main character as he hangs on a cross, stuck with me.
At that time in my life, I was an extremely shy and introverted young man. My hobbies were all things I could do in isolation: stamp and rock collecting, painting fantasy miniatures, reading books, and other things I could do away from people.
You see, the main lesson I learned from my childhood was people, especially those you love, will hurt you when you least expect it. People around me, my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and so on, had so much anger, so much hostility, that I worked hard to make myself as small, inconspicuous and unnoticeable as possible. I learned that opening my mouth to say something made me a target for the anger and hatred of others.
So I learned to keep my mouth shut, to avoid people, and to keep communications with others to a minimum. I learned it hurt, physically, emotionally and mentally, to be noticed, especially by family.
I should clarify that my sister is one of my best friends. She, I am sure, (although we have not discussed it) learned many of the same lessons in her life. She’s a fantastic person.
As you can imagine, these kind of childhood pressures and painful experiences led to many fears. I have discovered I have a fear of heights, for example, a terror of getting in front of an audience, and an utter dislike for large crowds of strangers.
Since those traumatic days so long ago, I have discarded many of those lessons. I am not bitter and angry; I do not have an irrational hatred of everything; I do not yell and scream at others.
Much of my adult life has consisted of sorting out the irrationalities learned and enforced with pain when I was a child, as well as conquering the fears and expanding my vision to new horizons.
I was married for twelve and a half years, which surprised me because my experience with family up to that point was pain, anguish, slavery and betrayal.
There are no prejudices in my makeup, in spite of those lessons that literally everyone is somehow inferior that were forced upon me while I was young. I judge people based upon their behavior, their intentions, and their actions, not on where they were born, their religion, their sexual preference or the color of their skin.
Even though I am, in many ways, still a “loner”, I have become, in my boss’s words, a social butterfly.
I have forced myself out of my shell, put myself out in life, and made an extraordinarily large number of friends in the renaissance faire, belly dance and other communities.
The lesson that I forced upon myself was I could look at the dark side of life, that imposed upon me by family, or I could conquer my fears and terrors and look at the bright side of life. I knew the dark side was painful, so I made the choice, over and over again, to discard those lessons and create my own, my healthier and more pleasurable, playbook.
You see, we all have traumas of greater or lessor degrees in our life. We can choose to allow those painful experiences to warp us into hateful, spiteful beings, or we can chose to put those memories aside and turn towards the bright side of life.
That’s the choice that faced me as I became an adult, and I believe I’ve made the right choice and have become a much larger, better human being as a result.
I’m relaying this message in the hope that other can learn this lesson, discard negative things they have learned in life, conquer their own fears, and live life in the bright side. It’s certainly much more fulfilling and much more fun.