Simple life

Life can sometimes be as simple or as hellishly complex as we make it. Celebrating some simple and profoundly true wisdom on life from comedian and podcaster Joey Diaz.

“With happiness, you can never lose.”

The simplest words can smuggle through so much wisdom about this life. The words I’ve quoted above come from Joey Diaz, speaking on his final podcast of 2019. Over the last year or so, I’ve come to love the outlook of Joey Diaz*, aka Uncle Joey. A rough-hewn philosopher for our times.

I love how Uncle Joey so often devotes whole episodes of his The Church of What’s Happening Now podcast to helping his Church congregation/family through difficult times.** He is driven by a determination to find whatever positive he can, and to let his friends and his audience know that there is always hope. The Church has really come into its own these past few weeks, with Diaz doing all he can to help us through the stresses and strains of lockdown life.

Listen to yourself

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This color image of the Earth was obtained by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft on Dec. 11, 1990, when the spacecraft was about 1.5 million miles from the Earth.

But let’s rewind a few months. For his New Year’s Eve 2019 episode, Diaz reshared his final podcast chat with the late Brody Stevens. Mr Stevens was a comedian with a troubled soul. He took his own life on 22 February 2019, and is reported to have been dealing with bipolar disorder and depression at that time.

Losing Stevens, losing a dear friend, hit Diaz hard. In his introduction to this episode, he speaks of his own battles with depression. An only child, Diaz feels that his natural inclination for spending time alone opens him up to the risk of depression. He describes depression as a man you mustn’t let into your mind, into your life. For Diaz, activity and socialising are the best ways to keep this unwelcome visitor away. He offers the following words for who might find themselves alone around New Year:

“This is the time of year when people’s minds stray. Don’t let your mind stray. Go out, be around people.”

Above all, he wants people to look out for themselves and for those around them. Here, Diaz shares some simple and direct wisdom for this year and for any year:

“Be a better friend in 2020, be a better friend to yourself. And that’s it, man. This is a fuckin’ simple fuckin’ life. Only we make it harder on ourselves with pressure and listening to people. Listen to yourself. You have natural fuckin’ instincts.”

A multitude of riches

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As we move forward through the maze of stress and anxiety served to us by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s worth remembering that we can sometimes influence how simple or otherwise our life is. This also applies to what we can do to help simplify and improve the lives of others.

If today seems tough, take a step back to weigh up what you can do to change it. If a friend is having a tough time of it, a tough day, what can you do to help them remember what life is really all about?

Probably without realising he was even doing it, my friend Simon Heath did this for me just the other day. I’d woken feeling jaded and run down, somewhat burnt out from the stresses of lockdown life. Mr Heath sent me abeautifully written tweet, a simple reminder of the gifts of life that abound all around us:

“Woken far too early but the birdsong is beautiful and our shrunken universe still holds a multitude of riches so there are all kinds of possibilities ahead.”

It’s that simple. It’s only right to close out this post with words with which Uncle Joey greets every day on Twitter:

“It’s a beautiful day to be alive.”

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FOOTNOTES

* I tried to sum up what The Church of What’s Happening Now means to me a while back, in the third part of my round-up of the best podcasts of 2019:

“I’ve become addicted to Joey Diaz’s The Church of What’s Happening Now. I never miss an episode. Through The Church, Joey Diaz (aka Uncle Joey) is creating a huge, rambling autobiographical work in podcast form. Brutal humour and brutal truth, spoken with a twinkle in the eye and a heart of gold. Uncle Joey shares the hard-earned wisdom built up on his path through life (although, the more you listen, the more you realise he’s lived through and learnt from way more than most of us could cram into 10 lifetimes). I love how Diaz moves gently, imperceptibly to draw some episodes to the most uplifting, positive conclusion (no matter how depraved what’s come before). It’s hard to single out a particular episode of The Church. They’re all great.”

I still can’t believe that I got a short but sweet Joey Diaz tweet in response to this post.

** The Valentine’s Day 2019 episode of The Church of What’s Happening Now is a particularly lovely example of the way Diaz can slowly and subtly build episodes of his podcast to a gentle, uplifting and deeply human conclusion.

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