by Maria Schulz
Another holiday season is behind us. The days aren’t so much merry and bright as they are bare and gray. It’s the New Year, and that makes me think about all I want to accomplish in the next 12 months.
The earliest days of January always fill me with a mixture of boredom, anticipation, anxiety, and hope. Maybe this year, I will become a better person, write more books, sell more copies of the one I already have out there, be kinder, get fit, lose weight, or even finish reading November 22, 1963 by Stephen King.
As I searched the Internet for ways to become a better person this New Year, I came across an article called “The Secrets to A Happy Life—Courtesy of Tolstoy.” In this very inspiring article, the author explains how, through Tolstoy’s example, we can keep an open mind, become more empathetic, make a difference, learn new things, and accept others.
I enjoyed War and Peace and Anna Karenina, but I realize that some readers’ eyes may glaze over by the things that excite an English major like me. So, I tried to think of someone a little bit more current. Someone who was a good sport, fought fair, and tried his or her very best. Someone whose worldview I admired, appreciated, and embraced. They didn’t have to be real…just real to me.
Therefore, I’m going to put forth my own:
Secrets to A Happy Life—Courtesy of Jim Rockford
1. Keep Smiling. Sure it’s hard to smile at everyone, especially when you suspect that they’re stupid, insane, or bent on killing you. But a smile is always your best bet, because the people who like you will be more willing to forgive your mistakes. And the ones who don’t will spend so much time trying to figure out what you’re smiling about that you’ll have the extra time you need to get away from them.
2. Accept Your Friends’ Character Quirks. Angel wasn’t exactly the best friend Jim could’ve hoped for, but he certainly did make life interesting. Yes, he was the reason that Jim often got shot at, beaten up, or found by the bad guys, but he also unwittingly helped Jim solve a case or two. So you’ve got to take the good with the bad.
3. Keep an Open Mind. Beggars can’t be choosers, and it’s not every day that someone comes through the door willing to pay $200 a day, plus expenses. So when opportunity comes a knockin’, you’d better open that door.
4. Expand Your Social Circle: it’s important to have family and friends to get you through the rough times, but it pays to meet new people. Sometimes Jim’s escapades let him play at being an Oklahoma millionaire or even to hob knob with rich folk played by Lauren Bacall. So go on…get out there!
5. Practice Empathy. When his friend, Rita Capkovic (played by Rita Moreno) gets beaten up by her pimp, Jim takes her into his trailer and nurses her back to health. Yeah, sure, this ends up causing her to fall in love with him and drive him crazy, but still. Empathy is good.
6. Live the Simple Life. Jimbo lived in a trailer! He’d rather go fishing with his dad, Rocky, than work! He didn’t obsess over the many debtors that called and left messages on his answering machine! His favorite foods were Oreos, tacos, and steak, with a beer chaser! He lived life on his terms, and I love that.
7. Beware Your Contradictions. While Jim may have preferred the simple life of fishing and loafing off, he also liked things like gold Pontiac Firebirds, dinner with a pretty girl every now and again, and loud sports jackets. Did he begrudge himself these things? Nope. He embraced it all. That’s my boy.
8. Never Take Sides Against the Family: Sure, Rocky drove Jim crazy. Whenever he heard what Jimmy was up to, he tried to talk him into “getting a real job,” or “staying out of prison.” Others may have found Rocky annoying, but no one said so to Jim, since he inherently understood that his father always had his back.
9. Always Keep It Real. Jim Rockford never put on airs; you knew where you stood with good ol’ Jimmy. Wouldn’t it be great if you could say the same thing about all of the people in your life?
10. When in Doubt, Run. Perhaps Jim’s best character trait was his ardent desire NOT to be shot, manhandled, punched in the head, or beaten to a bloody pulp. He was the anti-hero’s hero at a time when detectives like Mannix showed their masculinity by being left for dead in the gutter. Sure, a punch or two always seemed to hit the mark, but if Jim could disappear at the first sign of trouble, he was out of there. Now that’s my kind of hero.
Chile-Spiced Skirt Steak Tacos: delicious, and a great way to combine two of Jimmy’s favorite things (you don’t even have to visit his favorite restaurant, Casa Taco):
Oreos! Make ‘em at home using this recipe.
I would give you a recipe for home-brewing your own beer, but that’s WAY too swanky for Jim Rockford (not to mention, me). Remember to ask yourself: WWJD (What Would Jimbo Do?) Keep it simple—pop open a can of your favorite, just like Jimmy would.
For those of you who are wondering, I was inspired to write this post because James Garner was on all of the “Celebrities We Lost in 2014” lists, and it made me a little bit sad. So here’s a fun way to celebrate him again.
So, Hungry Lifers…what are your hopes for the New Year? Which TV show would you base your Secrets to a Happy Life on? Do you like spicy tacos, oreos, and beer chasers? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks, and Happy New Year!