Jerry Stocking realized that too many of us keep ourselves from having a good time… So he printed himself up a license for happiness.
First, an old joke:
A man 93 and his wife 89 visited an attorney. “We want a divorce,” the man said.
“You want a divorce, at your age?” asked the attorney incredulous.
“Yes,” replied the husband and wife in unison.
“Why are you getting divorced?
“We can’t stand each other,” said the wife. “We have hated each other for years.”
“Why didn’t you get divorced long ago?” asked the attorney.
“We were waiting for the children to die.”
My friend Wayne has lived in a rented trailer for over a decade. He is one of the cheapest people I know, and he has plenty of money.
Two months ago Wayne’s father died. And the transformation that came over him on the passing of his father was radical.
Within weeks Wayne not only bought a house, he bought a kitchen table. He is looking for a riding lawn mower and is smiling and laughing more than ever before.
Don’t get me wrong, Wayne loved his father and respected him. But he also wanted to please him. And his father was cheap, so to please him Wayne was cheap too.
Wayne had no idea his father wielded so much influence over him. Dad was a “hands off” father never explicitly telling Wayne what to do. But upon his departure Wayne discovered an entirely new life.
Watching the change, I wondered, what I am waiting for?…
Asking myself that question has been a life altering-experience. While certain questions require specific contexts, like asking for the salt when you are at the table makes sense and asking for it when you are taking a shower doesn’t. It seems that asking myself what am I waiting for is always a useful question.
Two weeks ago I had surgery. Nothing serious, except the pain of the cyst was extreme. On the way to the clinic, well aware that they were going to operate, I am not proud to say that I was terrified.
I realized that while I may wait to have a good time, like looking forward to a vacation or a concert or a meal, I hardly ever wait to show myself a bad time. I put off good times as rewards or things that I don’t yet deserve, but bad times seem to jump right to the head of the line.
Jerry Jeff Walker, the country singer best known for writing the song Mr. Bojangles, was in jail one night. “What are you in for?” asked a fellow cell mate. “I was having a good time without having a good time license,” replied Jerry without missing a beat.
Upon hearing that, I had an idea. I printed myself up a “having a good time license.” This is just a business card sized piece of paper that I slid into my pocket. Anytime I hesitated at the prospect of having a good time I remembered that I had a license.
Sure enough, it worked. I was at a restaurant and ordered what I wanted rather than ordering chicken because it was cheap. I had a good time. But the license produced other changes in my behavior too. It had me compliment my kids much more often and more freely. It resulted in more kisses with my Sweetie. And I went for a walk instead of remaining hunched over my computer. In short, it had me show myself a good time more often.
After sliding the piece of paper into different jeans over and over, it became bent, folded and mutilated. I printed out another one with a picture on it and had it laminated. Now I had a much more permanent license.
But the good times kept rolling. I was out for a walk in a park near my house and there was an elderly man sitting on a bench. He had an expression on his face as though it was raining, but it wasn’t. I walked up to him, introduced myself and gave him my license. He read it and smiled. “Keep it,” I said.
I took my walk, headed home, printed up more cards, and purchased a small laminator. Now I pass out these cards anytime and anywhere. Having a license seems to inspire people to have a good time. No need to wait, have a good time now.
Lead photo: Flickr/Nick