COLUMN: Dodging pot holes along the happy trail

If you were to ask my friends and family to sum me up in a few words, I like to think I know what they’d say.

Funny. Talented. Charming. Handsome. (Modest?).

Any would work just fine.

But of course, what I think and what others think are sometimes different, and – if I’m being honest with myself – the answer you’re more likely to receive would be this:

“I dunno… he’s kinda grumpy.”

Such is the persona I’ve crafted for myself over the years, courtesy of a self-deprecating sense of humour and a willingness to openly complain about things I feel are worth criticizing.

Thing is, it’s not altogether true. Sure, I have my moments – who doesn’t? – but objects in mirror are usually less grumpy than they appear.

I won’t go so far as to say it’s all been an act – I’m not all sunshine and rainbows, and I know it – but generally speaking, I’m a fairly happy, well-adjusted individual. The grumpiness usually amuses people, and rare is the day I pass up an opportunity for a cheap laugh.

Regardless, I realized recently that my penchant for complaint-based humour was becoming the lens through which people saw me – even my close friends.

Can’t blame ’em, really. I mean, if it walks like a duck…

So, in an effort to change the perception that I’m the world’s youngest grumpy old man, I decided that, in 2014, I’d try to be more bushy-tailed and cheerful.

It’ll be easy, I thought. Far easier than the usual goals people set every January, to lose weight or watch less TV or quit once vice or another.

All I’d have to do is smile once in awhile. How tough is that?

Well… tougher than I thought, it turns out.

The reasons are two-fold. For starters, my other resolution was to be healthier, and maybe drop some of the winter weight I’ve accumulated over the last few months (or last 30 years, if we’re being truthful).

So out went the holiday leftovers, the chocolate, the cookies, the chips, the eggnog and the beer, and into the fridge marched an army of green beans, spaghetti squash and all their healthy little friends.

I’m fully adjusted to it all now – though I’d still kill for a cheeseburger – but I admit those first few days were rough. I was grumpy, hungry, and just miserable. I moped around the house for a day or two, even got a little snippy on social media to some pals, and on more than one occasion was asked by my wife, “What’s your problem, anyway?”

But alas, I pulled through.

In fact, I was in a good enough mood recently that, rather than dig through the pantry for a long-forgotten stash of candy, I decided I’d be productive and do a little tidying up.

So off I went to rid my house of garbage, old magazines, stacks of long-ago-paid bills, and other clutter.

And that’s when I found them, a stack of old newspapers from June 2011, the cover of each one detailing the Vancouver Canucks’ run to what we all assumed would be a Stanley Cup parade.

I, like many diehard fans, was confident enough in the team’s chances that I’d kept the papers as keepsakes. I remember thinking at the time that I’d frame them, and add them to my memorabilia-cluttered basement.

Obviously, things didn’t quite work out.

The first few in the stack weren’t so bad. “HOME RUN” one front-page headline shouted in huge letters.

But the deeper into the stack, the sadder it got. The headline at the bottom of the pile was “Boston Massacre.” I didn’t keep anymore after that.

Talk about a buzzkill.

So rather than hang proudly in my basement, the papers instead had a date with the blue box outside. I would’ve burned them if I could have.

And it was there, staring down at the discarded papers, that I realized how tough this whole pursuit of happiness thing actually is.

Maybe I should just stay grouchy. Stick with what works.

Nick Greenizan is a reporter at the Peace Arch News.

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