The human story

Having once lived in Santa Barbara County, I can attest that it's not all like this. Photo by Mike Gogulski under the GNU Free Documentation License, via Wikimedia Commons

Having once lived in Santa Barbara County, I can attest that it’s not all like this.
Photo by Mike Gogulski, GNU Free Documentation License via Wikimedia Commons

“The human story does not always unfold like a mathematical calculation on the principle that two and two make four. Sometimes in life they make five or minus three; and sometimes the blackboard topples down in the middle of the sum and leaves the class in disorder and the pedagogue with a black eye.”Winston Churchill

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, things just don’t add up and we get a different sum than we were expecting.  It’s helpful to remain flexible and keep a sense of humor  when confronted with illogical circumstances.  Or maybe we can get creative with the statistics as the folks at New Cuyama did, and put a different spin on the usual rules– as long as we realize it’s all in fun and doesn’t change reality.

How do you react when your story does not unfold according to plan?  Do you get angry, frustrated, and discouraged?  Or do you look for the good in the situation, even if the only good is the ability to laugh it off?  Life goes on, and if we’re fortunate, we go on with it, whether we choose to smile, sigh or smirk.  Today, however the day goes, let’s try to smile.

One year ago today:

The maxim of the British


  1. I choose to smile! Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Thanks, I enjoyed seeing your smiling gravatar here today! So you encouraged me as well.

  2. That is hilarious! I think I need to print that and post it in my cube at work. We keep trying to make sense of the data …!
    I like the optimism in adding it all up, though!

    • Yes, they seem to be making the best of things. At least they are creative! 😀

  3. raynard

    Julia the sign reminded me of being stationed in Sinop Turkey.The airport not too far from sea level( you could see the ocean ” down the way.There was this time where a horse was dying in a creek. The Gyspie people use to get their water from there.That was better than a fuel spill and the Turkish fire department” dumped the sand mixed with fuel” in the near by ocean. It ran” back into the creek where” the Gypies got their drinking water from.. ( Keystone cops mixed with” Inspector Cleaseau lol)

    • That just goes to show you that toxic spills are a universal problem and take many forms. Inspector Clouseau is one of my all time favorite movie characters.

  4. bobmielke

    As a rule I don’t take myself or life too seriously. One of my favorite books is: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff: Simple Ways To Keep The Little Things From Taking Over Your Life by Richard Carlson. His book helped me through a really rough patch of life and taught me to prioritize things that happen in life.

    • I really like that book too, as well as some of his others. I was really sad when he died so young, but he did leave us a lot of wisdom.

      • bobmielke

        I wasn’t aware that he passed away. His wisdom helped me through a rough time.

        • His death was quite unexpected; a pulmonary embolism from a clot in his leg, from which he died in flight, reportedly in his sleep. He was only 45. I agree that his writing is very helpful. I still read him sometimes.

  5. Ha! Julia, I’m glad I got a chance to pop by today. My life has NEVER gone as I intended. In earlier years there were many tantrums directed at whatever god was listening and SO much angst………. Lordy, Lordy!! Now I look back at that younger, more controlling version of me and smile. What else can I do? Eventually I came to see that John Lennon was indeed correct and ‘Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans.’ It is what it is and there is always much to be learned and explored and grown through. Somehow it is always okay in the end.

    I hope all is well with you xoxo

    • Thanks Pauline, we are all surviving – have been beset with home maintenance complications, but it’s nice to have something non-medical to worry about. Your comment reminded me of a quote from Anne Lamott that I have always loved: “It helps to resign as the controller of your fate. All that energy we expend to keep things running right is not what’s keeping things running right.” Not to mention, things don’t always run right!!! For me, growing older has been a relief because it has forced me to turn loose of a lot of things. Now that I stop to catch my breath more often, I think I enjoy it all more. So glad you were able to stop by! Love to Siddy, Orlando and of course you too!

  6. I lke the story Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen uses as an example in one of his sermons. He says: “An orchestra was playing a symphony, when suddenly someone played the wrong note. Now the piece for all intents and purposes has been ruined. One cannot go on and still keep the integrity of the piece. So, instead, the conductor took that sour note and made it the first note of a new symphony, thereby removing the error.
    We too can take a stumbling block in our lives and stop right there. And use that event to begin anew without missing a beat.

    • Alan, that is a good story. There are a lot of legendary stories in the music and movie world about how improvisations based on mistakes or unfortunate situations that turned out to be huge successes – here is one of the most famous. It’s always wonderful to hear how the detour opened up entirely new vistas.

      • I remember the scene well. Such a simple solution for a guy who just had had enough.Never knew the story behind it. Thanks Julia.

        • That expression on Ford’s face just makes the scene. It’s even funnier to read about it and realize he probably wasn’t acting much at that point! 😀

        • That expression on Ford’s face just makes the scene. It’s even funnier to read about it and realize he probably wasn’t acting much at that point! 😀

  7. singleseatfighterpilot

    Tell us more about New Cuyama.

    • I don’t remember ever hearing of it until I came across that hilarious sign. Then when I saw it was in Santa Barbara County I knew I would have to include it. Despite its namesake city which is one of the most beautiful and affluent towns in America, the county itself is huge and pretty remote and wild. I will always remember driving through the Gaviota Pass for the first time and feeling as if I was crossing into another world – an impression that turned out to be mostly correct. But we never visited the east side of the Los Padres National Forest, where New Cuyama sits.

  8. Jack

    I make my living working primarily for businesses that are underperforming, and I’ve discovered an interesting human phenomenon over the last fifteen years or so. Usually, when things go bad, the plan to dig out of the hole involves some heroic effort, a new market, a giant new customer, something mostly out of reach that will provide deliverance. It never works. Serendipity by definition only comes when one isn’t out looking for it; the answer to most business problems is hitting singles, not home runs. The home runs come every now and then, but almost never when you’re swinging for the fences.

    Play ball.

    • Jack, that’s an interesting observation. The quest for the elusive magic bullet continues unabated, and I think it effects everything from business to sports to medicine to religion. Hitting singles isn’t as glamorous as the grand slam, but it is how ball games are won. One of the things I love so about baseball is the aspect of it that is most criticized and least understood by those who aren’t fans; the slow pace of the game and the supposedly “boring” nature of what is accomplished on the field. Those who love the game see the endless tiny details going on in every at-bat, every pitch, every base taken or lost, every fielded ball. Your use of baseball as an analogy is perfect. As the old Broadway musical number says, “You gotta have heart.” Which means showing up and being in it for the long haul.

  9. Julia, I’m sure that you can relate to medical appointments not going as planned. Today, I took a granddaughter for her annual wellness check-up. “Why does my mother insist on these unnecessary things?” as only a 15 year old can express. We arrived early, waited over an hour to be seen, but she is very healthy (although she groaned and blushed at the questionnaire) so I feel very fortunate. It’s bittersweet though, because today I realized she’s a young lady that can answer the questions without Mimi!

    • Wow, you don’t seem old enough to be Mimi to a 15 year old! I never had annual wellness checkups as a girl, and I must admit I never missed them, so I can sympathize with her lack of enthusiasm. I’m sure it was easier for her to have you with her, though she may not have wanted to show it. Bless you for waiting around with her for her appointment. That can be such a grind.

  10. I used to get angry when things didn’t go as planned. (well, angry is putting it mildly!) But now, I usually roll with the punches and enjoy whatever is going on. Ah, life is so much more enjoyable this way! Relaxed and carefree!

    • Denise, I can so identify! I am a real hothead, though getting older (or maybe wearing out) has calmed me down some. YES, life is much better when I don’t freak out over every little thing, and maybe not even over some of the semi-big things. Perhaps it takes living through some huge misfortunes to put it all in perspective for us. Having said that, I am still far less mellow than many of my favorite people. But I’m learning! Hope you are doing well.

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