This photograph, shared by a friend, brought back memories of my often frustration-filled life. This unfortunate fellow (who, despite the resemblance, is not me) has obviously lost himself in dissatisfaction of some sort, perhaps shouting out “Oh, poor me!” as he bangs his big head on the board at the front of a classroom. Perhaps he’s a teacher who has chosen to think of himself as exceptionally smart, someone who should know all the answers to all the questions, someone whose work in this world is to sail through problems with good luck and a hard head. I must confess that I was this fellow for fully 50 years. I banged my head on problems day after day, believing, I guess, that a tough, stubborn head (and heart) can make any difficulty disappear. I guess I saw life as an unceasing contest between big brave me and the bullying world around me. I was this bald-headed old boy in front of the classroom (the world), smacking my head on the board of life to bring answers out into the open. Yup, this hard-hitting warrior was me for too many years … but thankfully, around the age of 50, I started taking better care of my head. I slowly came to see that life can be lived like a captivating voyage instead of a fight to the finish, that problems can provide more wisdom than frustration, that questions are far more exciting – and more reliable – than answers. Now, since I no longer bang my head against problems, it, and my heart, and my life, seem to have grown softer, more open, more durable, more endearing. When setbacks show up these days, I try to smile instead of scream, to shrug and keep going instead of thrash and keep grumbling. 

And here’s Goofy, who know’s that a peaceful shrug is sometimes the best response.

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