The sun is coming up on another sleepless night and it’s not for lack of trying. I’ve spent hours in bed, both in blacked out silence and with quiet music. I’m pretty sure I nodded off for about thirty minutes at one stretch.  So, I find myself racing with stumbling fingers to tap out something enlightening and inspiring before most of my friends on the other side of this electronic wall wake up. My hope is that when you find a new post from Robinson vs. Parkinson’s on a Sunday morning you greet it with a smile and that great first cup of coffee.

What I’m trying to do right now is take a bad situation and turn it around.  My being up all night has led to a lot of thinking and hopefully some wisdom to pass along. I’ve been inspired by many things lately, and three in particular bring me back to the same concept that I want to hit you with today, and that is nothing less than what might be the key to happiness.

So how is it that after a terrible sleepless night of restless legs twitching around every thirty seconds and thoughts of brain surgery (while awake, I might add!) I feel the need to write about the key to happiness? Haven’t I recently written about having to start taking anti-depressants and losing the love of my life? Both are true, and I’ll do you one better: the aforementioned best friend and ex-wife has recently found someone new. A guy with a great job who can give her all the things she deserves. (Don’t check out here, it’s not going to be a “Woe is me, I lost my love” story.)

“Wait a minute”, you say, “Aren’t you jealous and heartbroken?” Yes, very much so. “Well then how the hell are you happy, much less writing about it?” The answer is because I choose to be. As to the second half of the question, it’s not such an easy answer. It really comes down to what I have found to be the true value in my life, and that is trying to have a positive impact on other people.

I did go through a really dark time recently. Hence the anti-depressants. For a long time there, I started stacking up the weight of a broken heart, an empty nest, financial problems brought on by never-ending injuries, and oh yeah, the recent progression of my Parkinson’s symptoms. (Did I mention that I just found out that I’ve missed Season 5 of Game of Thrones being On Demand?)

On top of everything else is the weight that I have gladly added to my load voluntarily in this persona of Robinson vs. Parkinson’s. I sometimes feel like I need to always be positive and to front that nothing can get me down. That is not only dishonest, but totally useless as true help to those I’m trying to reach. If I convince someone who has recently found out that they have cancer or lost a loved one that it’s possible to just ignore all these horrible things that we must endure, that they can just think happy thoughts and magically be happy, they might be successful for a time. Inevitably though, the weights stack up until they are measured in tons and we all break. The reason I share my pain is so that someone in need can identify with me. Then they can see that their burdens don’t have to be pushed away, it can be embraced for what it is: the shadow that makes the light seem brighter.

I speak often about the power of perception. When I was down recently, I was focused on all those negatives. It get’s very easy nowadays to see only the bad in the world. I’m not even saying that you should look at the world through rose-colored glasses or, on the more pessimistic side, embrace the suck, as they say. Instead, we can acknowledge our pain, and simply choose to look at it differently. By sharing all of mine through these essays, I turn it into something positive. That is my choice, when I am at my best. A video from one of my coaches, Kurt Mullican, brought this back into focus for me today. He talked about how with certain negative thoughts, we give ourselves permission to be lazy and not work to fix the things that get us down. Our perception is how we choose to see the world. We all think everything sucks sometimes, but I assure you, go to youtube when you’re done here and look up acts of human kindness. Your screen will fill up just as fast as if you looked for acts of human depravity. Thanks for the reminder Kurt, if you can get me that video (not the one of your cold, feet together, double bodyweight squat) I’d love to embed it on this page.

Second is a new video from Ben Lionel Scott on Youtube called “Make an Impact”.

This thing caught me at just the right time, and one quote of a Native American proverb took my breath away. “When you were born, you cried while the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way that, when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.” All of these things that were weighing me down give me an opportunity to help other people and therefore give my life a higher purpose. This echoes the Tecumseh poem I try to live by. It’s sitting right there on my wall, but it took this quote from one of our favorite comedians to remind me of it. To quote the parts that apply to this message,”…Love your life. Perfect your life. Beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and it’s purpose in the service of your people… When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself…When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

Finally, a good friend that I’ve never met, Benjamin Riddle (that’s his blog linked at the top of the page.), recently had a post that reminded me what this is all about.

GREETING THE MENACE – by Benjamin Riddle

Ben has recently had his fair share of hard times too and was brave enough to share and turn it into something good. Thanks for helping me get back on track Ben.

The sun has now come up and believe it or not, NOW I feel like I can sleep as you all are waking up. To bring this full circle, I have to return to biggest weight that was bearing down on me. Many people take the easy road when losing someone they love. It’s far easier to be resentful and jealous (ok, I’m still jealous) or to even hate the person they used to frame their life around. It takes courage to be a true friend and embrace the pain that comes with staying close. That is changing your perception. Far too often we think that our lives need to be perfect and we avoid every adversity that we can. For my part, I honestly worry about whether I can find someone new with this disease. I understand that it would be a lot to take on for someone who isn’t already emotionally invested. This pain won’t last forever though. It never does. So rather than feeling that broken heart, I choose to be grateful to still have my best friend of fifteen years. I choose to be happy. Broken hearts, injuries, Parkinson’s be damned. This is my life and I choose to spend it well.

Happy Sunday everyone. (No I’m not turning in my man card.)