Growing up, my sister and I were briefly minor celebrities to insomniacs across Appalachia. What I mean is we showed up on late-night TV.
It was 1982. The World’s Fair was coming to Knoxville. Everything was aflutter. Picture a whole city getting ready for company. Someone must have thought people needed a lecture because my sister and I ended up in a public service announcement. It started with a family, out at the World’s Fair. You could hear the daughter whining, “But Daddy! I want to ride the log flume.” That was my sister. A pudgy boy–played by me–rendered mute with excitement, writhed and tugged at the father. The father looked at his absolute limit, with those horrible children. Like something bad could happen, if you didn’t watch out.
I was only ten, so didn’t have any children of my own to go around beating, but things could make me mad. Somehow, “Take a break and cool off” made a lasting impression. As psychologist Viktor Frankl didn’t actually say, “Between stimulus and response, there’s a space. In that space is our power to choose a response. In that choice is our freedom.” Or as mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn actually did say, “You can’t change the waves, but you can learn to surf.”
Scholars trace the practice of mindfulness back to the Buddha. Me? I’ll always trace it back to Archie Campbell.