The sun will come up today’… and tomorrow

by Ogi Overman

Nobody wants to hear about your problems, goes the old saw, so I’ll shy away from what’s really on my mind. Oh, I could sit here and tell a tale of despair, of lives once filled with promise and a home filled with joy, that would leave ’em crying in the aisles, but it wouldn’t change anything. Tomorrow Janet would still be wheelchair bound, I’d still be financially strapped because of a failed business venture and Bush would still be president. Someday I’ll come to grips with it and be able to put it on paper, to be published posthumously, but not today.

Nope, somehow today my mission is to find the bright side. On this, the dawning of the last day of summer, my goal is to recapture some semblance of my former self, the self that had hope and ideals and that tried to brighten the days of those around him. The other day I was having a lovely al fresco lunch with two friends of recent acquaintance when the thought hit me: “I wish they could have known me when I was happy.” So, that’s the objective for today, to rediscover what is it was – what it is – that makes me happy.

Irrespective of external circumstances that are legitimately sad, we have internal triggers that produce feelings of happiness and well-being. Whether they are chemicals secreted in the brain and neural receptors or whether they are a result of upbringing and environment, the old nature-vs.-nurture debate, is beside the point. All I need to know is that they exist, whatever “they” are, and if they worked for me before they can work again. If happiness truly is a state of mind, then it exists in and of its own self and can therefore be expropriated for use by anyone, including me.

So then the key becomes identifying and acting upon those things that make me happy. Okay, let’s try that. Let’s use the old trick, hokey as it sounds, of making a gratitude list. I wrote about it once before in another weekly newspaper – which was that failed business venture I mentioned. It didn’t keep it from failing, but it did keep me from giving up. After all, I’m still writing, keeping this column alive, without the incessant pressure of having to run the show. And that’s as good a place as any to start.

The very day the News & Record announced the demise of the paper in which I’d invested, YES! Weekly publisher Charles Womack called and asked if I’d like to drive the Omnibus across town. And editor Brian Clarey has since confided that as long as he’s here so will be my column. Aside from the job security, the fact that I am wanted and appreciated by my peers is enough to make me gush with gratitude. And when I get an occasional e-mail, letter or phone call commenting on something I wrote, that’s icing on the cake.

I’ve also picked up enough additional freelance work to keep me fairly occupied and am working on a book pitch that, if accepted, will keep me extremely busy for the next year or two. Then there’s the screenplay I’ve started that may or may not ever reach the big – or any – screen. But at least I still seem to have my mental faculties, which means there’s still a chance I’ll be able to work long enough to pull us out of the financial hole I dug for ourselves.

As for Janet’s ongoing battle with MS, the disease continues to win. The details will only be published, as I said, posthumously, because, again, nobody wants to hear our problems. We all have our crosses to bear; that’s ours. I will say that we haven’t given up, although at times the hemlock does look enticing. She just started on a new drug, and there’s another one coming down the pipeline that’s already showing great promise in early trials. But we all know, don’t we, where the real hope for a cure lies? Embryonic stem cells.

Which brings us back – doesn’t it always? – to the third cause of my recent distress and discomfort. Of all the ill-informed, close-minded and ignorant decisions he has made, history may well record that this one outweighs his wars on Iraq and the gradual eradication of our Constitutional liberties. By limiting stem cell research, he literally infringes on our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and for that I will never be able to forgive him. If there is any solace it is that mid-term elections should produce a change in House (and possibly Senate) leadership, in which case impeachment hearings will prevent him from doing any further damage. That, and the fact that 2008 will get here eventually, offering some cause for comfort.

Now it’s time to go wake up my Sweetie and get her dressed. I’ll try to make today a good day for her.

Ogi may be reached at