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Chuck Brooks: Keep that inner child alive

"...a life protected as if by magic charms: a life unusually unaffected by dangers and difficulties." That is Webster's definition of a "charmed life."

I've been told by two of my friends at two totally different times when they weren't together, that I have led a charmed life. I've shared a lot about my life here week after week. I guess I've never thought about describing my life in such a fashion. God only knows I've known my share of "dangers and difficulties," but perhaps they're right.

I have a little different take on it, however.

"...unusually unaffected by dangers and difficulties." The operative word here is "unaffected." It doesn't say that dangers and difficulties haven't happened. Losing a grandmother that meant the world to me, losing a mother before she was 62, going through a financially difficult period of time, being left alone after a 12-year relationship ... life has definitely happened to me as it has to everyone.

What I think is different about me is how I've handled it all. By no means am I saying I've been able to handle it better than most. However, as you all should know by now, I think what separates me from so many others is a quality I've possessed all my adult life. I've never lost my inner child. He lives as strongly as the adult does. My passion for Christmas is certainly evidence of that. That's one way I explain the "charmed life."

Another explanation is I've looked at life through rose-colored glasses for as long as I can remember. I do think, however, that being able to do that goes hand-in-hand with the inner child. I need to remind people I grew up on a steady menu of Disney. And "Old Yeller" aside, Disney always had happy endings.

I was also in love with Martin and Lewis movies, as well as Abbott and Costello films. Comedies.

If "dangers and difficulties" existed in my life, I think I used my ability to see them, eventually, from a totally different perspective than someone else might. I also embraced cartoons as a child, and I rarely missed Saturday mornings in front of our television. I own most of those cartoons now on DVDs!

Inner voice

I also think I've managed to romanticize just about every component of life. Where someone might see dark clouds, I think I've seen the sunshine beyond the clouds. That's not to say I haven't been disappointed when my view betrayed me. There were certainly times when I was deeply disappointed because of my romantic view of daily existence.

However, I don't think I've ever let it stain that existence, and if I did, not for long. Whatever "dangers and difficulties" might have touched my 62 years, I was fortunate enough to move beyond them when it was all said and done. Again, I thank my child's voice beckoning me back to a mindset that life's too short to be bitter or angry or sad.

I think Mom saw this in me early on. The fact she allowed me to reach fifth grade believing that Santa existed just because she didn't want to pop that bubble of happiness should tell you something. Is it any real surprise that there's still that part of me who believes Santa's out there flying through the night sky on Christmas Eve?

Together again

I will be sharing with you in a month a story about a reunion I'm attending in late June where about 16 people with whom I lived during 1979-1980 will be gathered. I was an RA (resident assistant) in the dorms. There were 18 of us on the staff, and our bosses were a head resident and an assistant head resident. The head resident, with whom I've never lost phone contact, has organized this effort. We all have been apart for about 38 years.

That weekend in June should be something most special. I got a sneak peek this past weekend when the head resident was in Apple Valley visiting his sister. He and I hadn't seen each other for probably 30 years. Seeing him last Saturday night was one more event in my "charmed" life. It was one of my best Saturday nights in a long time.

Was that another example of something from my "charmed life"? Perhaps. But today, Sunday, I view it from the innocent perspective as a piece of my past revisited my present world, and it was awesome. I used to tell my students that to be happy was to have the right perspective on life. I stand by that. A little good fortune never hurts either.

Hear the emotionally stirring music of living when others hear nothing. You might be told some day you lived a charmed life too. In the meantime, have a charmed Memorial Day, at the very least.

See you next time!