Good world we live in. Big, broad and mobile as the Mississippi. Changeable as a kaleidoscope and just as colorful. No reason to ever get bored or stuck in a rut. Filled with wonderful, endlessly interesting people and things, and with a whole lot of cool stuff to do. At least that’s one perspective. Others may feel differently, that this is a wicked world, small and narrow, unrelentingly bland and populated by the selfish, the dull and the loud, with little to do but perform the same endless routine over an over until you drop dead. Sounds like a classic case of OPG, Other People’s Gripes. The beauty of this world is that you don’t have to share their world view or spend a minute longer in their company than is absolutely necessary.

Sorry pessimists, but it is you that are narrow, dull and uniformly depressing, not the world. The world is just fine, a fascinating place and frankly the only game in town. Anybody have a viable alternative? Until we reach the  stars, and that’s not happening anytime soon, this world is all we’ve got, and it’s a plenty big enough handful, filled to the brim with a whole lot of joy and love and absorbing challenges. Sure, it’s not perfect, but that’s where we come in, to try to make some improvements around here. Gives us plenty to do. LIke the Great Sage Yogi Berra reminds us: “If the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be.” There’s always something to reach for, new heights to attain, new problems to solve, new people to meet, a lot of satisfying ways to make ourselves useful and stay busy. And when bad things happen from time time like they always seem to do, well, that’s life, and another opportunity to make a positive difference.

Oh, but there’s evil in this world, many remind us. Sure there is, and it has a valid purpose too, to show us what is good. Without that contrast, everything would be equal, no good or bad, no desirable or undesirable or no tasty or bland. So we get to choose here, and go with the good, the desirable and the delicious. How cool is that? Or you could sit around and wail and moan and criticize about how very difficult it is to overcome evil and calamity. More OPG. The more time you spend griping, the less time you have to live your life, maybe pitch in and help out, get to stick your two cents worth in when it’s time to discuss what to do about things. Leave the wailing and the gnashing of teeth to those who enjoy that sort of thing. Rend not thy garments over spilt milk.

Besides, some people are not happy unless they’re miserable, so it’s best to let them have our portion of that bitter gruel. It’s only charitable, no? Somebody’s got to gripe and somebody’s got to take action, so that works out pretty good too. To each his own. Its all about the passionate pursuit of happiness, the key words here being passionate and pursuit. Life is a process, not an event, and none of us is ever a finished product until we leave this place the only way anyone ever leaves it. At that point our worries are over. Hopefully you’ve left enough of yourself behind so that your spirit and your love and your unbounded curiosity are still spreading ripples across this big old pond.

And make no mistake – all that we are, all that we do and all that we say has an impact on others. Just we have been influenced and shaped by those who came before us, so too will we leave our mark, even on people, places and things we never personally encounter. Someday the ones we leave behind will reach the stars and bring our influence with them. No one walks alone, even those who choose to believe that they do. Even self-made men and women draw upon all of humanity and nature to make themselves what they are. In that sense we all invent ourselves, picking and choosing from the infinite possibilities of what it means to be a human being. No other living creature we have ever encountered has that opportunity. A tree can only be a tree and a giraffe has no choice but to eat the high leaves of those trees. A fish can no more be a tiger than a tiger can become a fish. As wonderful as these creatures are, they’re sort of at a dead end, possibilities-wise. Birds may fly, but that’s about it for them. They can’t enjoy a great poem or a baseball game (poetry in motion).

Not so with us. We can fly too, or go where at one time only fish could go. We changed that. While we are all the same as far as being brothers and sisters both genetically and spiritually, we can and do explore a mind-boggling array of human activities, beliefs and outlooks, as kindred and diverse as snowflakes. Some may point out that humans are all over the map emotionally and temperamentally and that makes the world a confusing and contentious ball of wax. Again, OPG. Why complain about the biggest and best toy a thinking creature can have, a ball of wax that changes each time you examine it? A ball of wax upon which you can leave your mark forever?  A ball of wax you can make more beautiful, more just, and more filled with love, passion, joy, happiness and playfulness? Some of us are not looking for the complaint department, preferring instead NGH (No Gripes Here) to OPG any beautiful day of any beautiful week. Wage peace and spread love with a vengeance.

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