Reasons To Be Cheerful
December 17, 2003 4:19 AM   Subscribe

Reasons To Be Cheerful: Go on, give us one. If a curmudgeonly, pessimistic, reactionary old prison doctor like Theodore Dalyrymple can do it, so can we. It's a great little article, btw, but its title is even better. The late, great, crippled Ian Dury sang about them and comedian Dave Gorman built an Edinburgh Festival show around it. So be a sport and let us have one good reason of your own - preferably to do with something ahead of us or just now coming into its own or still stubbornly with us, despite the pricks and kicks. No nostalgia allowed! [It's the holidays, after all. Cynicism is for the rest of the year. I greedily bag AskMetaFilter, thank you very much.]
posted by MiguelCardoso (25 comments total)
Well, one reason: you still post here.

Another:The guinea pig is finally quiet for awhile and not hollering for a treat.
posted by konolia at 4:43 AM on December 17, 2003

See also the Greg Egan story by the same name.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:03 AM on December 17, 2003

Boobies (NSFW)
posted by ElvisJesus at 5:12 AM on December 17, 2003

i see the members of meta have secretly got together and bought me a bus ticket to stenhousemuir , i'm moved ! *sniff*
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:20 AM on December 17, 2003


That Dalyrymple is great--it really is all about being interested in the world, and paying attention, and savoring things. All the early snow this year has been giving me pleasure. : >
posted by amberglow at 5:29 AM on December 17, 2003

We were trying for Yell, sgt.serenity, but we thought the bus trip might be a bit wet.
posted by SteveInMaine at 5:38 AM on December 17, 2003

My reason to be cheerful for 2004 is a planned vacation to Portugal with my sweetheart.

Beyond that I look forward to continued breathing. Inhale. Exhale. The alternative sounds like no fun at all.

Tudo bem.
posted by SteveInMaine at 5:53 AM on December 17, 2003

Wait a minute , this Dalrymple article is all about people hanging themselves and stabbing each other in the heart with ballpoint pens !
An English Christmas perhaps.
Ach , im only joshing 'bout the ticket , dont be sending me any more of your portugese email scams !
Ok , reasons to be cheerful :
my friend came out of a coma,rangers 8 points behind in the league,women in general and all you good good people.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:53 AM on December 17, 2003

posted by IshmaelGraves at 5:58 AM on December 17, 2003


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy

Max Ehrmann, Copyright 1952

(Apologies for the long post, folks, particularly since this piece is likely to be familiar to many of you. It's just that this slice of writing is my personal remedy for the long dark tea-times of the soul.)
posted by clever sheep at 8:32 AM on December 17, 2003

Desiderata was written in 1927 (Ehrmann died in 1945). And if you're going to quote that annoyingly ubiquitous piece of treacle, I insist on the right to provide the antidote (for which I am grateful):


Go placidly amid the noise and waste,
And remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
Avoid quiet and passive persons unless you are in need of sleep.
Rotate your tires.

Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself,
And heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys.
Know what to kiss and when.
Consider that two wrongs never make a right,
But that three lefts do.

Wherever possible put people on "HOLD".
Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment,
And despite the changing fortunes of time,
There is always a big future in computer maintenance.
Remember the Pueblo.

Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle and mutilate.
Know yourself. If you need help, call the FBI.
Exercise caution in your daily affairs,
Especially with those persons closest to you;
That lemon on your left for instance.

Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls,
Would scarcely get your feet wet.
Fall not in love therefore; it will stick to your face.

Carefully surrender the things of youth: birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan,
And let not the sands of time get in your lunch.
For a good time, call 606-4311.

Take heart amid the deepening gloom that your dog
Is finally getting enough cheese;
And reflect that whatever fortunes may be your lot,
It could only be worse in Sioux City.

You are a fluke of the Universe.
You have no right to be here, and whether you can hear it or not,
The Universe is laughing behind your back.

Therefore make peace with your God whatever you conceive him to be,
Hairy Thunderer or Cosmic Muffin.

With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal,
The world continues to deteriorate.
Give up.

By Tony Hendra - 1972
posted by languagehat at 9:18 AM on December 17, 2003 [1 favorite]

somebody needs a visit from the hug bug !
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:08 AM on December 17, 2003

I pick sgt. as another reason to be cheerful : >
posted by amberglow at 10:54 AM on December 17, 2003

languagehat, you've always been a favorite poster of mine, so it's going to take more than a snide dismissal of one of my favorite pieces of writing to ruffle my wool.

...and this gives me another shot at answering Miguel's question properly. What keeps me cheerful these days? Lots of things, but foremost among them a recent "Ask Metafilter" thread on sci-fi that has provided me with a long list of new titles to explore, after I'd practically given up on the genre for several years.
posted by clever sheep at 11:51 AM on December 17, 2003

I guess I don't see how that particular work can be held up as an example of "treacle". It seems to me to be an earnest set of guidelines for making your way through an increasingly insane world. Now, I am sure there are all kinds of people who get all treacly about the poem, but the thing itself doesn't seem that cloying.

[Now, whether the world is actually any more insane today than it was in 1927 is a question open for debate, but certainly I feel that way. (somtimes)]
posted by Irontom at 12:28 PM on December 17, 2003

One person's treacle is another's treasure. De gustibus non est disputandum.

...And hey, I like both the snarky version *and* the original.
posted by clever sheep at 12:43 PM on December 17, 2003

i've never really looked at desiderata to be honest , theres something about its tone that i cant quite get into , it looks spiritual , it sounds spiritual , but it aint spiritual .
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:38 PM on December 17, 2003

Back in the seventies Desiderata was repeated so dang much that it turned into a cliche. Hadn't seen it or heard it in years. Gee, thanks.
posted by konolia at 5:43 PM on December 17, 2003

I like that version much better, languagehat. Like sgt.serenity, I have always found desiderata to be sort of faux-spritual at best.
posted by dg at 6:41 PM on December 17, 2003

Like Jimi said, "I still got my guitar."
posted by arto at 1:32 AM on December 18, 2003

I like both poems and will live by either as my mood swings dictate.
posted by orange swan at 7:07 AM on December 18, 2003

Sorry, clever sheep, it's not that it's necessarily such a horrible piece of writing (although I'll never be the kind of person who responds well to sentiments like "You are a child of the universe"), it's just that like konolia I lived through the period when you couldn't turn around without seeing the damn thing. When I first heard Pachelbel's Canon, I absolutely loved it, and I wound up getting sick of it for the same reason. Thanks for being so gracious about my snarkiness!

And you gotta admit the eternal truth of "despite the changing fortunes of time, there is always a big future in computer maintenance."
posted by languagehat at 7:38 AM on December 18, 2003

languagehat, you're my once & future king.

...and specifically to you and Konolia, my fondness for the piece might be easier understood if you consider that in the seventies, I was mostly occupied by running around playgrounds and being taught how to read. So I missed the "obnoxious ubiquity" phase entirely.

posted by clever sheep at 9:19 AM on December 18, 2003

well, I loved seeing it again, clever sheep; coming upon it all unexpected-like made me actually mind the sentiments expressed, which was nice. And languagehat, "Take heart amid the deepening gloom that your dog Is finally getting enough cheese" cheered me considerably as well. So I guess that with all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, MeFi is still a thing I can occasionally be cheerful about...
posted by taz at 1:27 PM on December 21, 2003

« Older ...but their bags stayed in Dayton...   |   Sorry Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments