What If Today…You Made Life Beautiful for Someone?

Giosué Orefice: “No Jews or Dogs Allowed.” Why do all the shops say, “No Jews Allowed”?

Guido: Oh, that. “Not Allowed” signs are the latest trend! The other day, I was in a shop with my friend the kangaroo, but their sign said, “No Kangaroos Allowed,” and I said to my friend, “Well, what can I do? They don’t allow kangaroos.”

Giosué Orefice: Why doesn’t our shop have a “Not Allowed” sign?

Guido: Well, tomorrow, we’ll put one up. We won’t let in anything we don’t like. What don’t you like?

Giosué Orefice: Spiders.

Guido: Good. I don’t like Visigoths. Tomorrow, we’ll get sign: “No Spiders or Visigoths Allowed.” ~ from the movie, Life is Beautiful, 1997, Roberto Benigni

I like Guido. He’s a character who makes life – the difficult, sad, boring and sometimes challenging – fun, wonderful, and beautiful.

Enter my boss, stage right:

“Here,” she said, passing the booklet to him, “Read this one. Out loud.”

We stood in the extravagant library with the grand piano behind us and the view of the ocean distracting me from the floor-to-ceiling windows on the other side of the room as the salesman from the alarm company recited a poem. The original owner of the estate had a booklet made by his company – a shoe-making company in Brockton, Ma. – that was sent out to his massive crew of employees quarterly.

“You are so funny,” I mouthed silently, watching her grin, standing next to him. Apparently she has brought the booklet out before and educated many an unsuspecting “visitor” on the culture of the early 1900’s as she flips from page to page, reading, discussing, and ultimately getting them comfortable enough with her that before they know  it, they’re reading what anyone watching would think was Shakespeare’s Sonnets!

The show ended and he went to hit some balls at the country club and we got in her truck, on to the next adventure. He’d picked the best day of the week so far to see clients on the Cape, and he’d saved time between them  to golf a bit. I giggled inside as I wondered how much of that time we’d wasted with our silliness.

“We ought to get a box of props,” I suggested as we approached the lighthouse. “It could be an initiation of sorts. We could make them all read from the book and them tell them to kneel as we knight them with a shoe on each shoulder, explaining that they’ve been accepted into the ….” that’s where I got stumped – we’d have to make a name for the club. She laughed and started telling me about the Visigoths. Her sister had just sent her some pictures of them on her iPhone. They even made t-shirts that with a circle and the word, “Visigoths” in the center with a red line through the whole of it….just for fun after they watched the movie (Life is Beautiful).

I tell you that snippet of a  story because my life has become so fun.

Every day starts out as a blank slate. I have no clue what I’ll do until I’m told when and where to go for the day. No two days are alike any more. The blanks I get to fill in however I like. These days I swim, sometimes by myself and sometimes with a friend or two. It’s so fun addressing the cold water that’s getting colder every day! I choose it because it allows me to test my willingness to take a challenge that I detest and have fun with it instead.

I have started to see a pattern in my mind – one that I think would be worth sharing. You see, I’ve noticed something about the changes in my life and how they are related to my moods and thoughts. I’ve caught myself dwelling on thoughts that have dictated how I related to other people and ultimately, how I spend my time. In other words, my thoughts and feelings, having been triggered by something someone has said or not said, done or left undone, became the force that guided me.

Now I DO things and my internal dialogue changes.

A few days ago, after listening and sympathizing to her struggle with depression, I said to a young woman who I adore, “If you’re not peeing in your bed because you have the strength to get up and go to the bathroom,  you’ll be okay. ‘Cause you have the strength to get up and go outside and live…”

She giggled and I took a deep breath because I didn’t know if I’d crossed a line with her. But it popped into my head so simply and quickly…

Back to my boss….

“Am I working tomorrow?” I asked her as she perused her book of appointments / adventures-in-waiting.

We’d arrived back at the parking lot of my favorite market (the one with the best slices of pizza – the one that DIDN’T make pizza in time for me to buy one yesterday and doomed me to read my book while eating a cheeseburger smothered with barbecue sauce instead, as I waited for her truck to pull in), and I sighed in relief when I saw my little yellow Beetle waiting for me. I thought for sure someone would have kidnapped it….

“Of course!” she smiled. She told me what we’d be doing and I laughed. THAT wasn’t work at all! She’d told me earlier that I had a whole week’s pay she’d missed.  It was coming my way, she said. What fun, I thought!

“You just want me around for entertainment. Don’t you?”

“Yes,” she admitted.

So, I think I’ll surprise her with a box of props if I can pull one together in time. And I think I have a name: “The Holy Order of the Shoe.”

I think she’ll laugh.

Isn’t life fun?

Here’s a clip from the movie, “Life is Beautiful”, the movie she insists we’re going to watch together. Enjoy!

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9 thoughts on “What If Today…You Made Life Beautiful for Someone?

  1. What a lovely post, Betsy! This movie is absolutely great, creating a different reality for his son under the worst and ugliest circumstances, somewhat it reminds me of Forrest Gump. Maybe because it speaks of innocence? And makes us laugh although we would want to cry?
    And in a way you have a little bit become like Guido, no?

    • Oh, I hope so, Barbara! What a wonderful thing to be so alive and to be so happy through a difficult stretch of life…but also in totally “normal” times. That is perhaps more of a challenge for most of us.

  2. LOL..Betsy I had to actually read that three times. You crack me up. I’m so glad you’re having FUN just doing. I would love to buzz around with you for a day..LOL. BBQ sauce on a cheeseburger..I thought only my G’son did that!
    I’ve never heard of that movie but I think I have to watch it.
    *Snort..Order of the Shoe? Darn good thing Halloween things are out..LOL
    As Always ~*~

    • HAHA! Ann, you should see the box of props I made! I bought a beautiful storybook-like box for $8, one whose cover opens to reveal an empty space. Then I put in fake, ugly, false teeth, googly eyes (the ones that pop out of the plastic glasses), 2 crowns, 2 capes, and two plastic daggers (swords for knighting wouldn’t have fit in the box) All those things are for me and her to wear when we have a “ceremony”.
      Then for our victim I got sparkly part hats, spider rings, and Tootsie Pops. She roared when I presented the box to her! Then a friend came up as we were going through it and she whispered, “We should get her!” But she disappeared to quickly.
      So much fun!

    • I thought about doing something like this in Alaska with you, Amber! Really, I did! Imagine the fun you could have around camp at night! Can you? It sure would be fun to send your clients home with something silly to remember you!

  3. Beautifully written Betsy and you’ve certainly made this moment in time beautiful for me especially with your thought “… my willingness to take a challenge that I detest and have fun with it instead” and am taking this for my own mantra.
    I absolutely can not close my eyes to an injustice/ unfairness and any sort of abuse without doing my very best to address it and so often wish I didn’t have to keep keeping on. So now I’ll be looking at ways to make these challenges fun instead of filled with sadness. I’ll sure be watching that movie 🙂
    You’re always an inspiration. Thanks so very much xxx

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