Friday, August 12, 2011

Gotta Get Happy

On Thursday evening, the Meet-Up group I joined a few months ago, Movies and Meaning, had the August meeting at a theater in the Clinton neighbourhood of Portland. The documentary was called Happy, which I had never heard of. I wasn't all gung-ho about this one, but decided to support the choice of the group, since they went with my two suggestions the past two months. Plus, I've never been to this part of Portland, so I'm always up for new discoveries.

I got there early, so I was able to people watch at the intersection of Clinton and 25th (or was it 26th?). That is a really interesting intersection. I think in the 30 minutes that I waited, I saw every Portland stereotype drive (or bike) by me! This neighbourhood is quintessentially Portland, with a few coffeehouses, restaurants, an old-school movie theater (one lady in the Meet-Up group called it "very vintage", which is a nice way of saying, "run-down"), an independent video rental store. As I waited and saw no one from the group, I debated leaving. There were other things I could be doing that evening. But as soon as I had that thought, one lady I know from the group spotted me and said, "Hi Nicholas!" Oops, I was identified. No bagging out now!

The group is mostly made up of middle aged white women, which I've said in previous posts is a group that I have had difficulty getting along with in the past (there are numerous factors that contribute to this problem, but its usually the conservative political and religious views along with the not having traveled outside the U.S. that guarantees that I won't get along with a person who fits this demographic). There were a couple of Baby Boomer men who came to this event, so I wouldn't be the only guy.

The movie theater kidding on the "very vintage" comment!!! It was probably the most run-down looking theater I've ever been in. I have no idea why Portlanders like their "vintage" movie houses, but they are all over this city, more than any other place I've lived in. These theaters tend to show second run films, independent films, foreign films, and documentaries. Happy is the documentary that our group was viewing for the month of August. I could have waited to see this film on DVD. As one lady said in our discussion of the film afterwards, there was nothing earth shattering about what the film presents. It presents information that we all probably heard about, particularly, getting plenty of exercise boosts our endorphins and endorphins make us happy. Or was that dopamine? I can never remember. All I remember is what Reese Witherspoon said in Legally Blonde: "Endorphins make you happy!" I know from personal experience that laying around all day being lazy won't get me out of a depressive state and the times when I went for a walk or did exercise, I actually felt good. Our bodies were meant to be active. The phrase "fat, dumb, and happy" is very inaccurate. Exercise and learning are more likely to lead to happiness.

The documentary featured a few personal stories that make it worth seeing. After the film, the group went to a nearby restaurant (The Savoy) to discuss. The procedure is that everyone takes turns introducing themselves and saying what stood out for them in the movie. Then, once everyone has spoken, the discussion is more free-flowing. Its a good format. For my intro statement, I mentioned liking the story segment of a lady who was beautiful and attended the same debutante ball as one of Richard Nixon's daughters. This lady fell in love and got married, had children, and lived the typical life of a housewife. Then, tragedy struck. She was accidentally run over by a pick-up truck, which drove over her and pushed her face into the gravel. She could have died, but she didn't. Her face, though, was messed up. When she got reconstructive surgery, her face was not hideously deformed, but you could see that her right eye did not line up with her left eye. Her husband couldn't handle the deformity (he did marry a beauty queen, after all), so he got a divorce. That was horrible! No loyalty at all. You would think that after being married for a time, that there would be a soul connection. Despite what she looks on the outside, her soul would still be the same.

Her views on life didn't change much after the accident. She still found things to be happy and grateful about. Then, she met a man whose first question to her was "can you still breathe through your nose?" Instead of being offended, she answered his question and he asked another one and she answered. So began a dialogue and he called her beautiful. Now there's a man who can see one's inner beauty! I loved that story.

After everyone took their turn sharing what impression they got from the film, the group's discussion fractured into two different discussions (it was hard to hear people at the other end of the table, so thus why the conversation broke in two). At my end of the table, one guy dominated the conversation with his life story. As it turned out, people talked less about the film we just saw than about other stuff. I guess the movie didn't make that big of an impact on any of us. I can understand why. It wasn't really profound enough for those of us who have been exposed to ideas far deeper than the filmmaker was able to convey in this rather basic film. It might be "profound" to someone who has a materialist view of happiness (such as, having money or things makes one happy, rather than just being and viewing the world in a certain way).

However, for me, what sets this evening apart was a lady who sat at the other end of the table from me, so I didn't get to hear what she discussed (other than her original impression) nor did she get to hear some of what I talked about. As we paid our bill and got up to leave, she said to me, "You look very familiar to me. Have we met before?" I was stunned when she said that, because she looked vaguely familiar to me, as well. So, we did a quick comparison of our social lives to see where we might have crossed paths. I asked her, "Do you volunteer on political campaigns?" She said no. I mentioned having worked at the Boy Scouts for four years and being involved with another spiritual Meet Up group, which she wasn't. When we decided that we likely did not cross paths, I said, "Well, Portland is such a small community that maybe we did and just don't remember." She seemed to agree. There was a moment where we just looked at each other and she said that she hoped to see me again at the next meeting. I had a bus to catch, since it was late at night, but I should've asked if she wanted to go for coffee or something, even though it was late. However, her info is on the Meet-Up group's site, so I knew I would be able to contact her.

As I walked to the bus stop, I kept thinking how awesome her question was. It truly is the best thing a person could say to me. Of course, I felt that there was something vaguely familiar with her as well, so its a mutual feeling. If our paths have not crossed (which it looks like it has not, based on a preliminary comparison), the fact that we feel a sense of familiarity with one another could be a spiritual indication that our souls have recognized each other. The last time a lady insisted that we met before we actually did was Christine! It was one of our first arguments, because she kept insisting that we met months earlier at a Young Adult activity that I never attended. When I met Christine for the first time, I felt a familiarity with her and I was smitten from the start. Of course, that did not work out in my favour because I did not listen to the psychic who insisted that I needed to focus on getting a relationship going with a lady I knew from the spiritual group I was a part of, rather than searching for a new job.

This time, a psychic I had seen awhile ago (which I had written about in the blog post entitled "The Best $35 I Ever Spent") told me that I better be ready for a relationship, because I was "moving into a relationship energy" that would dominate my life, that I would meet this woman by September, and that there was no way that we were going to miss each other. This relationship would change everything about my life, including my career. I know nothing else, but I'm open to whatever comes my way. The psychic even mentioned marriage by next year, because this relationship will supposedly move fast since we both will recognize that the other is the one we've been waiting for. Of course, this all sounds hokey and too good to be true, but after not listening to the last psychic who urged me to pursue a relationship over a job search, I won't make that mistake again. At least now, I'm in a job that I'm quite happy with for the moment, so there is no desperation to leave for my own mental health. I'm free to pursue my other interests, which is dating, writing, and de-cluttering.

As I waited for the bus, an idea hit me...what if this lady had seen my ad? That's what I should have asked her. Maybe she saw my ad and all the photos on Honestly, I hope not. I rather like the idea that she feels a sense of familiarity with me. Its a good sign. I intend to pursue this curiosity. When I got home, I saw her profile on Meet-UP and learned that she's a Unitarian, so I had to email her. Perhaps we saw one another at the Unitarian Church when I participated in the meditation group in 2008-2010. She responded that she did not go to that group. She mentioned being more interested in Buddhism, which intrigues me. I intend to ask her out to Cafe Yumm!, which I think is distinct enough rather than a coffeehouse. Hopefully a conversation will blossom from there if she agrees to meet. Here's to a promising possibility!

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