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I was reading a book online and decided to put it on the “Read Aloud” option. A robotic voice named “Microsoft Mike” narrated the text without inflection and, often, incorrectly. When it got to the word “Malignity,” it pronounced it as, “Molly Good-Nighty,” which made me laugh. That sweet name sounds like the antonym of the word’s true definition, which is “malice or malevolence.” 

I was still cackling about “Molly” when I came up to a page break, which looks like this:

*****

And the robot-reader announced in its flat affect: 

“Asterisk-asterisk-asterisk-asterisk-asterisk.” 

It was a book with a heavy theme, so these unintentional comic breaks were actually welcome.

A robot narrator has its limitations, and one of them is that it has no soul. It’s just reading a script as programmed. In real life, it’s hard to stick to a script. Days rarely go as planned. There are detours on the road. Unexpected delays on a project. 

When things get heavy, taking a laugh break might be just the answer. Laughing involves breathing (which we often forget to do fully when stressed), movement and social interaction.

Moments of levity can be the difference between going through the day on auto-pilot and feeling like yourself again.

The other day, my laptop stopped working. It had no power at all; just a black screen and silence. At the computer repair shop, the technician took out the battery, plugged in the cord and pressed the power button for several seconds. It turned on and I nearly fainted with relief.

He explained that, rarely, a computer may reach a point where there is so much energy being used that it just calls it a day.  It shuts down and leaves town.

Oddly enough, on the day before my laptop died, I had my own it’s-all-too-much moment. Things started to weigh on my spirit and I had quite a cry. Later, I realized that I had been thinking of negative things, some of which had happened years ago.

It was like taking a virtual tour of old, bad neighborhoods that don’t even exist anymore. Like walking through the remains of a factory that makes obsolete things, like Square Wheels, or Maps for Men. (Just kidding, males of the species! Nothing but love for ya.☺)

There really is no benefit in re-hashing things that were unfair, wrong, or hurtful. The people who did those evil deeds will have to answer for their own bad behavior, but you have the right to let go of what’s wrong. In fact, you have an obligation to your own soul to release what doesn’t serve you. Staying locked into that one location in time is like saying, I don’t want to move forward. I don’t want to feel good. I don’t want to live well.

Focusing attention on what you don’t want means you’re not scanning the horizon for blessings already headed your way. It means you might miss the good life that wants to find you, because the bad life of the past has filled the parking spaces earmarked for joy, warmth, and camaraderie.

It may be time to hit “refresh.” Visualize your life, exactly as you want it to be, in living color. Think of it as a palate-cleanser for the soul.

You’ll find that this choice comes in some form every day:

□Lightness/levity

□Darkness/despair

Do you know what happens to misery when you finally decide to obsess less and say yes to what will bless? In no time at all, it has join Elvis, who – as you know – has left the building. Yep, it shuts down and leaves town.

2007-07-06 16.27.44

Suddenly in the middle of the kitchen, there was a speedbump. I hadn’t put it there, mind you; it was in the shape of a perfectly life-like feline, sitting serenely as I prepared my coffee. It was my cat, looking at me, waiting for some scrap of sustenance in a dog-eat-dog world!

I hadn’t expected KitKat to be there, and was really startled.

“Oh!” I said. KitKat’s mouth formed an “O” as well.

My eyes got wide. KitKat’s eyes opened to maximum capacity. Like two big moon pies.

I pulled my head back in reflex. KitKat’s ears went all flat. Like Napoleon’s hat.

Then it occurred to me. He was reacting to my energy.

“Oh, it’s only you,” I said, nodding reassuringly, and went back to preparing my coffee. KitKat went back to his normal, Trying to Give a Heck facial setting, and moseyed over to his bowl to scout the offerings. Later, he’d stretch across the couch by the window, scoping out upstart squirrels and tracking the flight patterns of rogue birds. You know, his day job.

So much of life is about energy, isn’t it?

Last month, I tried to put a bell on KitKat so I wouldn’t be surprised by his sudden cameo appearances, but the ringing drove him crazy. Not just his ears, but his whole energy flattened. He ran around the house low to the ground, tail tucked, trying to escape the infernal noise.

You can see – and feel – energy interactions everywhere you go.

Once at a drug store, the pharmacist had apparently gotten into a heated argument with a customer. My son and I were joking around as we walked down the aisle, into this moment of friction. The customer turned his head abruptly and glared, thinking that we were laughing at him. He realized that we were just talking to each other and turned back to shoot daggers with his eyes at the pharmacist.

Energy is also malleable. At times, even fluid.

Last week, I got a package in the mail. KitKat sat nearby, on his default setting: bored/nothing-to-see-here-keep-it-moving. I tossed the box aside and in a flash, KitKat had climbed in and curled up contentedly, forming a furry ball. This is the life! his energy said, as he settled in, purring, for a nice afternoon nap. To some, it might seem like a standard-issue box. But if you read the energy meter right, you’ll see it’s really a cat-condo filled with creature comforts. Not bad for a former street-cat!

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