I went to sleep dog-tired with the song “I’ve got a golden ticket” (from Willy Wonka” running through my head). I was busy all day but the second I stopped for anything, the song would pop into my head. I even wanted to dance to the song. Indeed, as a kid I never thought my life would be anything but catastrophe. Yet, I got a golden ticket. As a matter of fact, I have gotten various golden tickets in life.
As I unpack my suitcases and boxes in my new home, I cane across some photos of my mom from close to ten years ago. Back when she was still alive and vibrant and wacky. There was one photo where she had on approximately 20 layers of clothing and the funniest hat and look on her face. It was not that cold that day in New York City. It may have been 40 degrees. That could be considered balmy for a New York Christmas. But there she was in her zero degree weather attire. Looking at the photo I laughed and fought back tears. Every time I see a photo of her these days I wonder why she had to die at a relatively young age. As I looked at this photo, I started humming the Willy Wonka song.
See, my mother and I would perform together every Sunday when I was growing up. We would sing, dance and act out scenes. We would practice for my storytelling contests as well as my spelling bees. We never watched Willy Wonka together. She did love Gene Wilder. Although, the Willy Wonka I am familiar with is Johnny Depp. I wish we had watched that movie together. It is just wacky enough for our Sunday activities.
So, how did I get to this narrative? My mom was my “golden ticket”. She worked hard for me to have a better life. She indulged my love of reading and writing. She encouraged me to act out silly performances that would get me out of my shell. And when I got a chance to go to boarding school, a literal golden ticket, she let me go despite her heart ache. From there, I got to live in Spain, go to a great small college, get a great first job out of college, then get my PhD, get my pick of post-doctoral fellowships, great real director job and then a position where I am the ultimate boss. Of course, it is not always a golden ticket feeling when you have to take the ultimate responsibility for things. There are times when staff don’t quite understand and blame one for all ills in their lives.
But this South Bronx girl got herself a golden ticket. A series of golden tickets, that is. For that I am eternally grateful. For that, I am grateful every day. Even when things seem a bit down and out, I can rightfully sing about having a golden ticket. I won’t say that I always find a silver lining or make lemonade out of lemons. I am a New Yorker afterall who despite her love pink and purple, still has black dress attire as part of her soul. I am dark humored and have a snarky bite. Yet, I know and believe things can always be worse and no matter what I can deal with a situation and address it head on.
Perseverance and resilience are another part of that golden ticket perspective and day-to-day life. You know what else is part of that mix? Laughter! Even if you don’t find a difficult situation to be particularly funny make yourself laugh. Just the very act of pushing out air from your body while you laugh, as well as making your mouth upturn, will get you in a better, brighter mood that may eventually get you that golden ticket.
This morning I wake up in a wacky mood singing and dancing to Willy Wonka and craving some chocolate. Thank you mom and thank you laughter. Have you read Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting? That’s my other recommendation for this wacky day.