Chris Saxman: Cold Fusion – Corn Flakes Edition

Having spent the last fortnight on hiatus due to the Easter holiday, our attention is returned.

It’s good to take a mental health break and stop thinking for awhile or in many of our cases simply over thinking. When society begins to accept the dramatic and profound linkage between mental and physical health, we will live a far happier existence.

As recent events have shown, some things are simply out of our control. Earthquakes in Haiti and Japan could not have been prevented. The tornadoes that ravaged the South this week similarly cannot be stopped let alone predicted.

Continental Airlines, however, can be prevented and as a result of their complete inability to serve their paying customers in manner commensurate with expenditure, they are on my no fly list – forever. While originally upset, I simplified my goal to landing safely and was very happy to arrive home Friday morning at 2am.

Trivial as my experience was in the grand scheme of things, it once again delivered the message – just deal with it and move on. Happiness is far too important to let other people interfere.

Earlier this year, I met several young Haitians who were traveling the country as part of a choral group raising money and awareness of the horrible situation in their home country. What so impressed me about these kids was how happy they were. Happy people spreading the word of their country’s misery. Cognitive disconnect? Denial? No, it is called acceptance.

Here in the land of plenty, we seem to suffer, for no apparent reason, to those who truly suffer. The Haitians were asked what they would want for breakfast – anything at all. Waffles, bacon, eggs, pancakes?

Nope. Apparently, the breakfast of choice in Haiti is Corn Flakes. It’s a delicacy – with a TON of sugar. Not Frosted Flakes. Corn Flakes. The simplest of all breakfast cereals. So, at 11pm I hustled on over to the local Food Lion on N. Coalter street and went to the cereal section to complete the hunt. Note – it’s a great grocery store and my personal favorite.

Well, I was not about to go generic on these poor Haitians, they were going to get the best daggone Corn Flakes money can buy. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. How could they be denied after their long journey? The Haitians also love Sony’s Wii and would play it until the sun rose if they could, but that’s another story.

The happiest people I have ever met come from the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and they are thrilled to have Corn Flakes for breakfast. The most miserable people I know are put out by flight delays, traffic congestion, and getting an overcooked steak.

The second happiest people I have ever met are the Catholic nuns of the Little Sisters of the Poor. They spend their entire existence caring for the elderly poor in the nursing homes they run. Sister Joseph Marie and Sister Marie have a simple yet important purpose in life – caring for poor people before they enter, hopefully, Heaven. Vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and hospitality for the sisters creates happiness in service to the Lord which is truly beautiful.

As Pastor Rick Warren demonstrated in his book – The Purpose Driven Life, we are happier and healthier with lives lived with purpose. From that we add value to others around us and we have a reason for being. We then matter.

Separated from simplicity, we get complicated. Distracted. Off balance. Unhealthy.

The most beautiful things in our world are, in fact, the most simple and most elemental in life. Sunrise. Sunset. A rose. An eagle soaring. I’m sure you can come with a long list of things simple and beautiful.

The most depicted image in art is the Madonna and Child. Mary and Jesus. Really, is there a more beautiful person – insofar as true beauty is known – than a woman with child? They are said to glow. There is no greater purpose, no greater reason for that woman than that child. And she glows with the simple happiness of knowing that connected, purposeful simplicity rooted in the most basic love.

We don’t tend to complicate things, we DO complicate things and often in a never ending attempt to make life easier. Mom says that the dishwasher is the cause of the breakdown of the familiy. I doubt the Maytag repairman would agree but there is some truth in that.

While Sister Marie is also a Boston Celtics fan, I don’t think she is in jeopardy of losing her balance. In fact, following sports probably maintains her balance and happiness.

Tuesday, a friend described for me how his brother was married to a billionaire’s daughter and how much was available to him. I offered that it must be difficult maintaining a balance with literally everything available. He said that he worried about that as well and in fact his family has discussed it.

The day prior, many in our Commonwealth were rocked back to reality when we learned a dear friend and colleague lost his battle with his own demons. Unknown as they were to his closest, they won and we all lost.

If we are to win, we must be ever vigilant against the complexities of a life best lived simply. And we cannot ever think we are alone in that war.

Evangelist and author Joyce Meyer writes of the battlefield of the mind and courageously describes her own battles so that the reader may confront their own.

We all have them. Just google famous people who suffer from – enter ailment or symptom you might have – and you will see that you are in fact SO not alone.

It’s actually comforting, in an odd schadenfreude way, to know that George Washington was terribly afraid of being buried alive to the point where he ordered his body, once he died, to not be buried for three days just to make sure. Or how Benjamin Franklin was kept from solely writing the Declaration of Independence because his colleagues thought he would hide a joke in it.

It’s far more easier for many to get a physical checkup than it is to call a head doctor and ask them to look under the hood, but the engine of the human is the mind and it manages everything in our lives.

If you are a 40 year old man and you admit it to your doctor, it’s time for the Mr. Babar scene from Fletch. You can take no comfort on the succeeding appointments when the nurse offers you “And you will be getting a digital exam today, correct?” As I learned much to her convulsive laughter, THAT exam is not done with computers. Digit = finger.

:(

For some reason, our insurance companies and legislatures have not decreed that every five years we should check out that crawl space between our ears. Perhaps a study will be done showing how much money in health care would be saved if we did but that would take great courage as we would have to admit that everyone does indeed have something in the attic that needs to go to the dump. We all do. Time to deal with it and move on.

Sunday marked the beatification of the greatest witness to the love of Jesus Christ in the 20th Century (paraphased quote of Billy Graham) – Pope John Paul II. When he became pope, the new Polish pope said, in Italian, to the assembled at St. Peter’s “Non Abbiate Paura!” – Be Not Afraid. Pope John Paul II got on the road to sainthood by living a saintly existence; but he confronted so many human demons in the world and still went to confession every day to confront his own.

Good and evil are both omnipresent. It’s a daily battle we all must face. Be not afraid of the battle, you are not alone. Ever.

Find the balance. Eating Corn Flakes and fishing help me, but I’ll take the word of the mechanic who looks under my hood. Thank God he’s Catholic.

Column by Chris Saxman


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