There has been much tragedy in my life. At least half of it actually happened.

-Mark Twain

I get a lot of stick from some of my most beloved blog/Twitter pals for being largely upbeat most of the time. I distinctly remember an exchange a few months ago where two people I follow egged each other on with comments like,

“Don’t you hate people who only say positive things? As if! Isn’t that annoying? The real world is not always cause for celebration.”

While I concur that the world has horrors to behold, I find the desire to be happy no less sexy than those who would give in to a sullen disposition. What is often said (and rarely believed) is that happiness is a choice. And it takes a lot of work. Don’t believe me? Get this:

In the past 3 years, life has offered me two devastating breakups, a life-altering health scare, being stabbed in the back by people in powerful positions both in Los Angeles and here in Baltimore, a botched audition (and lived to blog about it) and find myself torn between excelling at school and doing the things I love. I am far from my closest friends, scrapping at every spare moment to keep my playing passable, and wonder how the time will materialize for me to finish the next book and form a life that has a little bit more cohesion to it.

And dammit, I find a way to power through the days. Not with false platitudes, but with perspective. Under the auspices of grace. Do you even know the story of Polly Anna? I’m glad to be in her company, if that is what my way of seeing life is described as. One of the most important things you can do when you’re down is give. Give back, when you feel wrung utterly dry. Not to assuage grief or distract you, or even strike a balance with the universe. Giving when you are spent shows you that you are not really spent, at all. It ventilates the ache in your chest and helps you see the pit in your stomach as an informative ally.

Happiness is not the absence of suffering. It is a choice we all have when faced with adversity. I do not bound, giddily, from one adventure to the next. Now and again, Cagney pushes a grapefruit into my face, and I’m left wondering what’s next. What’s next, friends, is a blog like this. To listen to music is cause enough to be touched. To participate in it, to actually play or write or teach or study music? That is what you call incredible luck. Since you can’t run from life, may I gently suggest we remind each other, as I’m reminding you: life is short, and very much what you make it.

That’s how grapefruit juice was invented in the first place.


You are the music while the music lasts.
-T.S. Eliot