52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. QUEST

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ODE TO A WORLD-CLASS QUEST

Today, I’m on a world-class quest for the ultimate food fest.

I started off so Hungary and thought to Czech my kitchen first.

Then, I was Russian to the fridge but only found a Greece-y Turkey.

Iran to the grocery to get some salt, pepper, Chile and Korea-ander,

Because I was in the mood for Sweden sour.

I found Iraq of lamb chops but there was Norway I could eat ‘em all.

The Romanian ingredients were some Belgium pepper and

A Canada best soup I ever tasted.

Can you Bolivia it?

I Cyprus the urge of buying some Fiji water

Because I Haiti that it leaves Denmark on the environment.

My friend, Sergeant Tina, decided to join my quest.

She suggested Japan-seared tuna but that Kuwait a while.

Our friend, Chad, also came and brought his Qatar.

We Singapore song after another

While we Polish the silverware and clean the China.

We mix some Cuba Libre cocktails and Malta whiskey.

This was our best Croatian, yet!

When we Finnish our quest, this was the best food fest.

We’re Ghana repeat this since we’ve gotten tired of just Seoul food.

I’m Peru-sing my food choices Angola search for new recipes.

Israel hard to find great food.

I Congo days looking Bhutan no avail.

Kenya’ll understand me?

Syria-sly, I’m still on my world-class quest for the best food fest.

I’m sure you have a Brazil-ian suggestions.

Thanks for being so India-ring.

Quest questions? I know I’ve got some Spain-ing to do.

Maybe we can go on Samoa quests together soon.

                                           (My thanks to Anonymous and to Crowd-Sourcing for noodling this ode.)

THE S.U.N.S. JOY QUEST is a set of questions I have compiled over the decades to create a self-guided exploration intended to increase an individual’s likelihood for “joyous aging.” My experience as a gerontologist has been that people 50-plus who examine their lives to recall joys of the past and of the present find personal insights equipping them to make choices that add joy to their future years.

Quests are journeys with specific missions. Launching a hero or heroine on a quest is a common plot device found in ancient mythology and also in modern day, inspirational storytelling.

We still enjoy the bold quests of Sir Galahad for the Holy Grail, pull for Aeneas to return to his homeland in Virgil’s “Aeneid,” and cheer for Frodo Baggins to destroy the “One Ring” in “The Lord of the Rings.” In “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy is on a quest to find a way back to Kansas, the Scarecrow for a brain, the Tin Woodman for a heart, and the Cowardly Lion ultimately “cats up” for some courage.

S.U.N.S. QUEST reflects the four, basic elements of “The S.U.N.S. (Smile-Making, Uniting, Neighboring, Spellbinding) System.” Feel free to add your own twists, turns and tangents as you traverse your journey of self-discovery.

Here are 100-plus questions from “The JOYrontologist” to guide your “JOY QUEST”:

SMILE-MAKING QUEST

  • When in life were you most joyful? When in life have you been most joy-challenged?
  • What is a joyful day for you? What is a joyless day for you?
  • Where in the world do you think you could readily find joy? Where are places you might avoid in order to experience greater joy?
  • What are some things you think positively about which give you joy?
  • What are some things you do which give you joy?
  • What are some memories of meals which make you smile with delight?
  • What are sounds/music that have given you joy through the years? What was the genre of music you heard when you first became aware of sexual feelings? What is a music concert or event you would find almost embarrassingly rapturous?
  • What were the happiest five, consecutive years of your life?
  • Are you currently on anti-depressants? What would need to happen in order for you to not be drugged yet be calm and even joyful?
  • If you had a camera and could take five photographs of things that make you smile, what are you visually recording?
  • What did you find joy in doing when you were a child? A teen? In your 20s? In your 30s? In your 40s? Other decades? The last five years?
  • What is something you purchased that really gave you joy?
  • What is something you enjoy about aging?
  • What is a joyful memory you have of sunlight? Moonlight? Dawn? Dusk? Darkness?
  • What is a great vista or landscape you remember with boundless joy?
  • Are there things you could change about the way you look, dress, present yourself which could give you more joy?
  • Are there places you could walk and possibly connect with others rather than driving in a “bubble” from your “house bubble” to your “work/church/club bubble” which could possibly set up new “joy encounters” for you?
  • What are complements you’ve received that make you smile to recall?
  • Do you have enough money to feel positively secure or should you consider ways to bolster your income?
  • Do you LAFF EVRY DAY? What makes you laugh? How could you add more laughter to your life?
  • As a sensualist, what are your most joyful memories of: Taste? Touch? Sight? Sound? Smell?

UNITING QUEST

  • Who do you connect with and regularly experience joy?
  • Who are people you perceive as joyful? How could you spend more time with these joyful people?
  • Who are people that regularly make you less joyful and what are ways you might change that?
  • Who are famous people in history or “popular culture” that make you feel joy?
  • How about the joy of being single? Could you remain uncoupled but connect deeply with friends/family/pets and not deny yourself joy?
  • Do you feel joyfully connected to “the man/woman in the mirror?”
  • Is your “communication style” allowing you optimal joy? Could you alter it for greater positivity yet remain “authentic?”
  • Is your joy-laced “love language” about hearing “I love you?” Observing being loved? Feeling a loving touch?
  • What is a compatible “joy chemistry” you feel with someone else?
  • What has been your most painful “break-up” or estrangement from another? What did you learn from that experience that can be useful going forward?
  • Do you have any enemies or “frenemies?” Is there something about this dynamic that you are enjoying? If not, how could you eliminate it?
  • What was your favorite children’s book and why? This is the book you begged your parents to read to you over-and-over or the book you read until you wore the book covers off. What was it about the main character that you connected with so deeply? What sort of people would that character choose to be with to find joy?
  • What would a joyful, three-hour interaction with another person be for you?
  • What is your most joyful time with your family of origin? Your family you created?
  • What letter or message in life do you most treasure?
  • What was a ceremony celebrating a union that you remember joyfully? A wedding? An anniversary? An adoption? A reunion? A homecoming?
  • What is a joyful memory you have of being touched? Hugged? Caressed?
  • Who are your people, your tribe?
  • Could you connect meaningfully, joyfully with others online?
  • Is there someone who enjoys something you do not (cooking? Shopping? housecleaning? Vehicle upkeep? Pet care? Lawn care?) with whom you might barter/exchange tasks?
  • Do you squander opportunities for joy because of comparing your life to others or being competitive? How might you change this to experience greater joy?

NEIGHBORING QUEST

  • What do you do for others that seems to bring joy to them?
  • What do you do for others that brings you joy?
  • How might the fellowship of spiritual groups add joy to your life? Traditional? New age?
  • What are examples of “joyful gatherings” in your community? Where do you “fit in” with these?
  • If you could help others learn something positive for their life, what would that lesson/course of study be?
  • What are things in your community that you wish were better? How can you help improve these things?
  • Does the leadership in your community reflect the citizenry? How could you help government leaders do a better job?
  • The arts often need community support to thrive; what more could you do to support the arts in your area?
  • What are your favorite places to see in your community? What are your favorite physical perspectives (vistas) in your part of the world?
  • Everyone can feel the joy of being philanthropic, remember the “widow’s mite?” What do you give time or money to that makes you feel joy? Could you give more?

SPELLBINDING QUEST

  • What are things you get so caught up in that “time flies” and you reflect on it with joy?
  • What are movies or other entertainments that totally engage you in joy?
  • What could you continue studying that could fully engage you?
  • If you were hypnotized, what candor would you worry about expressing?
  • Have you ever tried yoga? Meditation? A day of “happy silence?” Tai Chi?
  • What is a goal you’ve achieved that brings you joy to recall?
  • What are expressions of congratulations that made you feel proud and joyful?
  • Who are your heroes and heroines of impressive achievement?
  • Which biographies in books/films/theatre have you most enjoyed?
  • What is an “immersive experience” in which you might find joy? Museums/art shows? Spectator sports passion? Travel? Foreign culture?
  • What might you do daily as a joyous lifestyle to optimize your diet? Your exercise? Your sleep?
  • If you were sailing on a cruise ship, where would you most like to go? Who would you most like to go with you or meet? What do you think would bring you the most joy on this voyage?
  • What are joyful daydreams for you?
  • Is your home a captivating “vessel of joy” for you to live in? How might you increase your joy at home through design changes? Should you relocate?
  • Would intentionally “slowing” the pace of your life make you feel more joy, or do you more enjoy going fast?

S.U.N.S. JOY QUEST might not have been the term Miguel de Cervantes was exploring when he created the legendary fictional character, Don Quixote. However, the 17th century Spanish author sends Quixote, a sort of foolish gent, on a grand quest which ultimately transforms him into a hero of chivalry.

“Man of La Mancha,” one of Broadway’s most-enduring works, is based on Cervantes’ even more enduring tale of the quest, “Don Quixote,” written in 1605. The beloved musical premiered in 1965, ran for 2,328 performances and has enjoyed four revivals on Broadway.

“This is my quest, to follow that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far,” could be your theme song as you explore your own “S.U.N.S. QUEST.” If that is not quite enough to propel you forward on your “joy journey,” here are more lyrics from “La Mancha’s” show-stopping ballad, “The Impossible Dream.” After you read this “fist to the sky, windmill-tilting” charge to action, I encourage you to YouTube a few rousing renditions of this spirit-lifting anthem and get going on your own ”joy quest.”

THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM

To dream the impossible dream

To fight the unbeatable foe

To bear with unbearable sorrow,

And to run where the brave dare not go.

To right the unrightable wrong,

And to love pure and chaste from afar,

To try when your arms are too weary,

To reach the unreachable star.

This is my quest

To follow that star

No matter how hopeless

No matter how far.

To fight for the right

Without question or pause

To be willing to march, march into Hell

For that heavenly cause.

And I know if I only be true

To this glorious quest

That my heart will lie peaceful and calm

When I’m laid to my rest.

QUEST ODES FROM OTHERS:

“I suppose everyone continues to be interested in the quest for the self, but what you feel when you’re older is that you really must make the self.”—Mary McCarthy

“The longest journey is the journey inwards.”—Dag Hammarskjold

“I feel the older I get, the more I’m learning to handle life. Being on this quest for a long time, it’s all about finding yourself.”—Ringo Starr

“The eternal quest of the individual human being is to shatter his loneliness.”—Norman Cousins

“I think much of my own quest in life is to figure out how best to cope with my own uncertainties.”—Chloe Benjamin

“Science is a quest for understanding.”—Jocelyn Bell Burnell

“I’m on a perpetual quest for air-conditioning.”—Bebe Buell

JOY-GIVERS CELEBRATING A BIRTHDAY THIS WEEK:

Aug. 6—Lucille Ball

Aug. 7—Garrison Keillor

Aug. 8—Esther Williams

Aug. 9—Betty Boop

Aug. 10—Jimmy Dean

Aug. 11—Chris Hemsworth

Aug. 12—Sir Mix-a-Lot

DON QUIXOTE’S LEAN BEEF SKEWERS—NEBRASKA

(Source: Discover.Grasslandbeef.com)

Each week, “The JOYrontologist” shares a recipe saluting a healthy food produced in America. This delicious and nutritious collection is called “The S.U.N.S. Longevity Cookbook” and highlights vitamin B-3 (niacin), which many gerontologists believe holds the promise for a long, healthy, joyful life.

INGREDIENTS

Lean beef stew meat

  • Marinade
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 tbsp. coconut aminos
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp. hot sauce
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

Vegetable and fruit chunks (of your choosing):

  • Whole mushrooms
  • Zucchini
  • Red bell pepper
  • Red onion
  • Pineapple

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whisk together all marinade ingredients.
  2. Add stew meat to the marinade and mix until well combined. Refrigerate 4-24 hours, giving the meat time to soak in the juices.
  3. Take the meat out of the refrigerator and begin assembling the kabobs on skewers—layering meat, fruit and veggies. Consider starting with a whole mushroom at the base that acts as a stopper for the rest.
  4. Grill the kabobs over medium heat for 12-15 minutes, rotating occasionally and drizzling the remaining marinade throughout the cooking process.
  5. Enjoy fresh off the grill.

1,070 JOY-GIVING THINGS FROM MY FIRST 70 YEARS (continued)

708. The quest for a good night’s sleep to conquer lifelong insomnia

709. “The Adventures of Jonny Quest”

710. Annual quest for New Year predictions with a fortune teller

711. The quest for a teenage acne cure

712. The quest for solitude and the quest for companionship

713. A Tribe Called Quest

714. The eternal spiritual quest after living in a house well-known for having a ghost

715. My quest in Paris and in Nice for my “art father,” Henri Matisse

716. Quests for great food and quests for great circus

717. The quest for truisms and aphorisms

718. My continued quests for invented lives

719. The continued quest for improvement with self-help books and lectures

720. My ragtop quests for “The Best BBQ in The South”

721. The endless quest for more smiles and laughter

722. Quests using personal ads

723. The quest for understanding others through Enneagrams and horoscopes

724. The quest to explore “grand design” through microscopes

725. “The Proust Questionnaire”

726. My long, long Rumspringa

727. The quest of being a runaway teen in New Orleans

728. The “Think Up” quest for ideation

729. The region-wide quest that led to “The Seven Signs of Southernness”

HAPPY NEW WEEK and JOY QUEST!