On the Corner
Let a little sunshine in
by Robert Docter –
It was just before dawn on a dark, cold, gray, blustery late winter morning. Traffic, even at that early hour was horrendous – stop quickly and race a half-mile ahead, jam on the brakes and repeat the process. The 405 freeway is never a friendly drive. It’s kind of a “pay attention or get whacked” race track with five lanes of packed drivers switching left and right, bouncing back and forth while going between 75-80 miles per hour.
On this day, my period of 405 fellowship started around 5:30 am. It lasted about an hour, during which I pushed a carefully studied succession of radio push buttons to stay aware of traffic reports. They also report the news. That’s hard listening. It’s mostly focused on unemployment statistics, foreclosures, stock market tanking or some guy killing his whole family and himself because he had lost his job. It’s nearly never upbeat, rarely positive and seldom cheery.
I arrived at THQ around 6:30
My thoughts took me lower than the basement parking garage in which I parked my car. With a sigh of relief and two calming deep breaths I climbed out of my car, but not out of my mood – just about the same as the day – not much warmth, very little to be buoyant about. The sky showed a promise of some kind of a dawn, but I ignored it.
About two hours later the offices showed signs of additional human existence. I leaned back in my chair and noticed some gold sneaking through the blinds. I quickly stood and jerked the blinds open. The room filled with sunshine. Warmth radiated. Natural light lifted my mood. The tasks before me seemed less difficult. Someone passed my open door and said: “Good morning.”
What a gift – a brand new day.
As I looked out the window, suddenly, I started humming, then softly singing, and, finally with gusto I let loose with:
Let a little sunshine in,
Let a little sunshine in;
Clear away the windows,
Open wide the door,
Let a little sunshine in.
I thought, “Holy smokes, that’s the answer. Things are really tough, but if we stick together, we don’t have to crawl down in the dumps, and if we find ourselves already there, we can choose to change.”
We are masters of our own fate – responsible for our own decisions. We pick up cues from our environment, we give them meaning. The meaning we give them begins to deliver strong, persistent thoughts and feelings we call “moods.”
Sometimes the environment delivers powerful evidence that triggers shock, high anxiety, disappointment and scares us mightily. Now is such a time.
We, however, give it meaning.
In very loud voices, newspapers and broadcasters continually remind us there’s an awful lot these days that can spiral us down in the dumps. Those folks not hurting are worried and confused. I guess it’s mostly about the economy – job losses, a vanishing retirement income, people losing their “dream homes” and becoming homeless, banks, brokerage houses, insurance companies, General Motors, and even state and city governments — all seeking a bailout.
Some tell me the real problem is the “credit crunch.” Out of fear concerning non-payment, commercial banks, holding on to their cash, are reluctant to grant credit to businesses small and large. Those businesses need these resources to continue to operate. They lay off workers so they can function on the cheap – scaling back what they make, what they sell, or the service they perform. Some skip reading the early chapters of the “business book” and end up on Chapter Eleven – bankruptcy. Those former employees “scaled back” or locked out, now without income, can’t buy anything at the local store. Without income, they begin to default on loans, and gradually, in a hurry-up way, the entire economy begins to slip down the drain.
I know, it’s a simplification – but even that is enough to make we want to lay down, cover my head with a blanket, and cry. I choose not to. Instead, I sing a song that makes me laugh – a little Joe Reposo ditty written for Sesame Street. The words go like this:
Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of good things, not bad
Sing of happy, not sad.
Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not
Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.
I’ve had my allotted 15 minute funk. I smile and begin thinking of good things, not bad – of happy, not sad – and in the process of letting a little sonshine in, I also change the spelling.