A few years ago, I come with the assumption that transitioning to a more northern clime will mean cooler temps and more moisture. Alas, I am mistaken.

“I wonder if we’ll ever get rain?” I lament to myself, leaving Joplin and driving east on Zora Road, soon after I move up, over the Missouri state line from a lush, green mountaintop in the foothills of the Arkansas Ozarks.
A few years ago, I come with the assumption that transitioning to a more northern clime will mean cooler temps and more moisture.
Alas, I am mistaken. I arrive in the middle of a very long, very dry early summer heat wave. Every tender transplant I put in my new shade garden keels over before she can even settle into the ground, no matter how much water I provide with my hose.
Ordinarily I don’t worry about the weather, since the weather will do what the weather will do no matter how much we speculate or fret or worry or complain.
Today, after so, so many arid days, I feel worriedly concerned as I head down the road home after a shopping trip in town. I can almost hear my produce purchases wilting by the mile.
With my car windows rolled up tight and the ac cranked up high, I try to focus on listening to the music on my radio. I try to redirect my thoughts away from my weather-water-worries.
Then as though by an act of divine timing, Bobby McFerrin comes on blissfully singing “Don’t worry. Be happy.” Really? Really!
Oh how I love that 1988 video with Bobby McFerrin and Bill Irwin and Robin Williams singing and clowning and dancing their troubles away in their outlandish get ups and silly faces.
McFerrin cheerfully carries on in his heavy island accent,
“Here’s a little song I wrote.
You might want to sing it note for note.
Don’t worry, be happy.
In every life we have some trouble,
But when you worry you make it double.
Don’t worry, be happy.”

“Don’t worry. Be happy!” I’m singing right along as I tap out the beat on my steering wheel and bounce up and down in my bucket seat. “Don’t worry. Be happy!” Looking out the windshield I notice clusters of charming little white, fluffy clouds, buoyant apparitions newly appearing like celestial angels blithely frolicking. Their undersides look heavy and gray-laden. Surely they must be carrying rain. “Don’t worry. Be happy!”
Can that possibly be a gigantic crimsoned smile I see stretching left to right all the way across the horizon before the puffy cherub clouds? Or am I hallucinating with the joyous prospect of rain falling from those gray bellies? Perhaps I’m picturing a heat mirage as a heavenly promise.
By the time I get home, I’m inspired to stow my groceries quick, quick, quick ‘cause I’m pumped to paint that glorious promise I’ve just seen before me.
I grab a rectangular canvas. I sketch in the clouds and the big, big smiling lips. The summer sky is painted cerulean. Textile scraps in dark green become the good earth below. Sequins are stitched above, sprinkled among the wee clouds, just like the stars that burn all day even though we can’t see them. The text comes last tattooed in cursive over the lips as one simple word — “smile.” I title my heat wave painting, “Don’t Worry. Be Happy.”
Every morning David and I wake to our “smile” painting hanging high up on the wall opposite our be — encouraging and reminding us how best to start each new day. “Don’t worry. Be happy!” David tells me he first heard the simple admonition spoken in hippie days by Meher Baba (1894–1969) the Indian mystic and sage who often used the expression "don't worry, be happy" when communicating with his Western followers.
This same expression was printed up on inspirational cards and posters in the 1960s.
In 1988, McFerrin was inspired by the charisma and simplicity of the words, when he noticed the "don't worry, be happy" phrase on a Meher Baba poster in the San Francisco apartment of the jazz duo Tuck & Patti. Soon after, McFerrin wrote the now famous song, which he said is “a pretty neat philosophy in four words."
Are you still intending on registering you artCamper-wanna-be for artCamp which begins Monday, July 9, 2018?
“Don’t worry. Be happy!” Classes are getting full, but there’s still room for your artist-in-the making! Registration forms are available in Carthage at artCentral, Carthage Public Library, Cherry’s, The Deli, KOKA Gallery and The Palms. In Joplin you’ll find registration forms at Spiva Center for the Arts, Cleo’s Picture Framing and Design and Crackpot Pottery and Art Studio.
You can also go online and download the registration forms from artCentral’s website: http://www.artcentralcarthage.org/artcamp-2018.html. Complete your artCamper’s registration and add your check for tuition, then drop them through the front door mail slot at Hyde House, 1110 East Thirteenth Street in Carthage.