Tag Archives: Lieutenant-Dan

Happiness Project Update 21: The Lieutenant Dan State of Mind

4 Feb

I’m not big on contemplating The Heavens. I have a hard enough time thinking about my own existence on Earth to go pondering about how I’m going to be handling the next life, or “the next stage”. I’m trying to enjoy this one.

Image via happiness-project.com

Image via happiness-project.com

Spirituality and faith, they used to be easy. But now, not so much.

Even though Rubin had the stats to prove that spiritual people are relatively happier, this particular chapter of The Happiness Project was a tough sell for me.  I used to be one of those church-going people, the kind that went on a regular basis. It was a weekly thing. I had the stand up-sit-down-stand-up-kneel-down-then-sit-down routine memorized. I knew the prayers by heart,  didn’t even need to open the book. I had it down, packed. I even had my own money envelope. It had my name pre-printed on it and everything. But once my dad passed away that seemed to change matters. I was no longer attending weekly masses. I wasn’t really talking to God much.

Some people tend to get closer to God when tragic things like this happen, I sort of went to a Lieutenant Dan-State-of-Mind, the kind of mental state that was happening when he was on the shrimping boat with Forrest Gump and the huge hurricane hit. He was up there on the mast, battling and yelling at God, while the storm was rocking the boat.

This is where I find myself, spiritually. I struggle with faith because of the loss. And I’m sure there are others out there with their own faith struggles, but I guess Rubin brought up a good point. How can you have a Happiness Project, without involving spirituality and faith? Studies and statistics show …

I guess that just depends on your project.

Do I want to be in this Lt. Dan state of mind my whole life? I don’t know. Probably not. I’m not entirely off the grid. I do hold certain spiritual states close to my heart. Things like gratitude, mindfulness, and peace. I learned to appreciate “the glories of the present moments” in my ordinary life, like the creation of chocolate. There had to be some sort of divine intervention on that one, right?

But yeah, I’ve still got some sort of spirituality in there and I guess this chapter might strengthen what I have left, but I don’t know if I’ll be going back to the pre-printed-name-on-the-envelopes stage just yet. I understand that spiritually-rich people may be mentally and physically healthier, deal with stress better, have happy marriages and live longer. I get that Rubin checked all the studies on that one. And yes … yes of course I want that for myself. Of course I’m aware that when things get out of control, extremely chaotic, and catastrophic people tend to reach for something beyond themselves, beyond their own universe in search for some sort of understanding and comfort.  Spirituality and faith in God bring a different dimension into life, but it’s taking me a little while longer to get through this post-traumatic growth phase. I reached out, but didn’t get an answer or any comfort. Thus my Lieutenant Dan state of mind.

But eventually the storm passed, and Lieutenant Dan got off the mast and jumped back in the water for a swim. I guess that may be the whole point of the chapter, to remind me to find a way back. I totally appreciated the effort, but truthfully, it’s gonna take some time.

Jesus and Andy Garcia

22 Feb

Cenizas. That’s a big day for Catholics. Usually everyone who ever entered a church in their life attends mass on Ash Wednesday. Even if they don’t attend the whole year you see the motley crew of Catholics, from the business man to the tattooed gangster. All under one roof for cenizas. It’s the day where most non-Catholics say … “Hey you got something there on your forehead. Did you fall down?”

It happens. I don’t take offense. That was the last thing on my mind on Wednesday night. I was thinking about the next 40 days and what if anything I was supposed to give up in “self-sacrifice”. Although since my dad’s passing, I’ve been in an argument with God, but I don’t know if He’s aware. I’ve been like Lieutenant Dan from Forest Gump, when he’s on the boat and it’s about to get hit by the hurricane. 

Anyhow, in my Lieutenant-Dan state I went to get my cenizas trying to think of something to “give up” the next 40 days. But giving up stuff has never helped my devotion, penitence, or faith. Instead I was thinking of giving to…as in giving people breaks, giving random strangers acts of kindness such as waving in hostile drivers so that they can merge into the lane. Being that chick that holds the door open at the 7-11 for the person behind me. Basically trying to be one of the characters in that Liberty Mutual commercial, a regular paying-it-forward cycle.

Andy Garcia

Image via Wikipedia

Just as I was pondering my list, I looked up and there he was, wearing his dark gray stylish jacket, burgundy scarf, and dark brown rimmed glasses. Andy Garcia. He made his way toward me and I paused. I didn’t know whether to approach him, ask him about any jobs, slip him some of my stories or scripts. We were in church. I wasn’t sure how to approach a celebrity in a holy-leave-me-alone-I’m-talking-to-God place. I mean he was in The Untouchables, Ocean’s Eleven, and Ocean’s Twelve. Granted he was in the Godfather III, but it was the third one and truth is that one sucked. I stood there thinking. Then he looked at me and walked right by me on his way to receive Communion. I thought maybe when he comes back around on the way for cenizas, I can talk to him. I couldn’t concentrate on God or cenizas, as I was trying to work up the nerve to approach him.

He hadn’t been in any movies lately and the only thing I recently saw him in was an independent movie I rented on Netflix. City Island, which incidentally was pretty good. So I waited, trying to think of what to say. But he never came back. 

So I stood there … thinking of my almost-Andy Garcia moment.  I felt kind of let down, then I thought…could’ve been worse…could’ve been Robert Redford or Robert De Niro. But if it was any of those Roberts, I think I would have jumped over Mr. Businessman and Gangster and crawled over a couple of pews. They probably would have been on the Liberty-Mutual-help-a-stranger-40-days of Lent plan, too.

You never know.