(The blog posts based on the Twelve Steps will continue when I complete my current book, which is due to my publisher NOW! The San Angelo Standard Times has given me permission to use my columns on this website after they have been published in the newspaper. This one, was published on February 25, 2017 )
I hope you left your troubles at the door because in here, we’re having a party.
And with those lines, the four young singers and dancers who call themselves Under the Street Lamp knocked themselves out bringing the music of the ’60s back to life for a full two hours. The talented quartet sang and danced their way through doo wop, Motown and old rock ‘n’ roll hits, and if someone there didn’t have a party, it wasn’t the fault of the performers.
I’m here to report that for me, the stated intent was accomplished. Those guys didn’t miss a beat, and those of us for whom the music provided an opportunity to feel the beat of our youth, it was glorious and fun and invigorating. I smiled through the entire concert and left thinking, “Troubles? Do I have to pick them up at the door, or can I leave them here?”
The music was wonderful, but the opening line has continued to echo in my mind. Knowing how to leave your troubles at the door is a good thing to learn, and if you need a little music from an earlier, unclouded day, so be it. I’m not too proud to regress back in time for an evening.
Leaving your troubles at the door doesn’t mean you are running away from them. It can mean you have learned how to compartmentalize the various and sometimes competing and troubling issues of your life. It could mean you know how to set boundaries and manage the stresses of life. It could be a strength and a discipline, actually.
Leaving your troubles at the door doesn’t mean you don’t understand the gravity of them, nor does it mean you are in denial about what is a real or present danger. It doesn’t mean you are avoiding facing what you have to face, calling problems by their real names or sticking your head in the sand, hoping if they are ignored long enough, they will magically disappear. It may mean you have learned the value of the occasional “time-out” for renewal, rest and regeneration.
Leaving your troubles at the door doesn’t mean you are leaving them for someone else to solve. You may be able to hand them over to your people, whomever those people might be, for an evening or a season, but for most of us human beings, there are certain troubles that are ours alone to carry. It may mean you are taking the time out to detach for a couple of hours or a couple of weeks in order to get some distance from a situation so that you can go back into it with a clearer focus, a firmer resolve or a solution you might not have noticed if you hadn’t taken the time to get your head clear and your body rested.
Nor does leaving your troubles at the door necessarily indicate a trust in magical thinking. It isn’t a blind faith in a benign deity who is going to work everything out, anyway. It isn’t a shrugging of the shoulders or a shrugging off responsibility, but it is often evidence of a faith that is hearty enough to know when it is time take a Sabbath break from the woes and worries of daily toil and the unrelenting problems of the day and truly rest and relax.
A full concert of the music of one’s youth may very well be an escape, but if it is, it’s a healthy escape with no unpleasant aftereffects, and with the little help from my musical friends, I relearned another one of life’s simplest and most helpful lessons. Taking the right kinds of breaks, including having fun with people you love, is a protection against the effects of sustained stress, an investment in your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health and a happy responsibility of those of us who dare to call ourselves adult.
Gratefully, my friends heard Under the Street Lamp on television and invited us to join them for the evening. Isn’t spreading good news and sharing good times what good friends do?
We did join the party, and were better, happier and more relaxed for the time well-spent.
Jeanie Miley, a former San Angelo resident, is an inspirational author and speaker. Her column appears Saturdays. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.