Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Positivity Police and the Good Weather Gangbusters

The Good Weather Gangbusters

The Good Weather Gangbusters: I can't stand this rain. It's supposed to be 85 degrees tomorrow and sunny. Can't wait.

Me: Hmm...it's March. I find those temperatures disconcerting this early.

The Good Weather Gangbusters:  Really?? I LOVE it.

Me: Do you wanna marry it?

The Good Weather Gangbusters: What?

Me: Nothing.

And I walk away, wondering why the world is so damn fanatical about "nice" weather. It's almost cult-like, how people treat a sunny day. Yes, Virginia, there are clouds, rain, snow...sometimes even sleet. Hell, hail! It's neither good or bad; it just is.

Radio Announcer: It's another beauuuuutiful day today out there, folks. Looks like we'll hit 80 degrees, if we're lucky! So you better get outside and enjoy the sunny day because it's sunny and sunny is good and I'm positive because I love the sunny weather. Back to you, Joan. Sunshine!

Dark, rainy days always offered me the luxury of doing nothing guilt-free. Its suddenly alright to roll into fetal and mindlessly zone. Besides, clouds are amazing natural works of art. Strong winds possess a haunting sound that stir the soul. A storm rolling in makes me believe in dark powers. (Yes, dark powers - the scary ones that are mean and wild.)

The Positivity Police

The Positivity Police: How are you today, Beth?

Me: Pretty irritable today. And rife with existential angst. You?

The Positivity Police: Oh...well, I'm not that. I'm good. I'm better than good. I'm great. I'm delirious from feeling the best I've ever felt.

Me: Well, happy days for you, Mary Poppins!

The Positivity Police: Excuse me?

Me: Nothing.

And why is negativity so frowned upon? I mean, you'd have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to feel negative in this day and age.

A quick recap of our dire condition:

Our environment is pretty much ruined. The corporate interests have taken over and barring a revolution, they'll screw us toward an untimely death. And we're too gluttonous and lazy to do anything about it, except watch it happen from our beige couches.

And come on...what about relationships? Can people get anymore lame? After decades worth of TV and Internet hypnosis, we're emotional vegetables. Go ahead, just try to get your needs met by the zombies banging around out there. Flatliners, the whole lot of us.

But it's more than just the slow, torturous downward spiral of our civilization and the slow deterioration of our ability to relate; it's this positivity contest we seem to be caught up in. As if we're all trying to prove to each other how we'd never be caught dead with any of those nasty, ugly emotions.

The Positivity Police: But don't you understand, Beth? When you feel negatively, you bring more negativity into your life. What you put out into the world comes back to you.

Me: Ah, I see you've read that piece of New Age bullshit called The Secret.

The Positivity Police: Yes and it's sooo true. When I radiate positivity, only positive things happen.

Me: Sounds terribly simplistic. Do you believe in flying purple unicorns too?

The Positivity Police: What?

Me: Nothing.

Ah yes, The Secret. When you're negative, you're a walking misfortune magnet. Cancer? Your fault. Car hit you? You and your bad thoughts! Dog peed on your leg? You asked for it.

Interestingly, that kind of dogma doesn't sound that different than many types of religious rhetoric, where you desperately try to eschew dirty thoughts from your mind in an attempt to be pure. Can't do it? Burn, baby, baby. It's emotional propaganda and just plain annoying.

Quick Quiz:

Do we really want to think nothing but positive thoughts?

Do we have little capacity for the dark side of life, and if so, why?

Are we be trying too hard to be positive as a defense for the tremendous amount of fear and pain we carry?

Can we ever feel okay about feeling shitty?

Could our constant need to appear upbeat be making us chronically depressed?

Can we sit with the negative feelings of ours and others without the perpetual need to fix it?
Negative emotions, just like "bad" weather, serve a purpose. Anger can propel you out of a bad situation and into something new and healthier. Jealously can remind you of the deep vulnerability you feel when you love somebody. ("I don't get jealous!" Oh yes, you do. Or you've denied yourself the opportunity to, for fear of weakness. Or you don't really care what your partner does, which is a whole other problem.) Sadness and grief...what feels better than a good cry?

Don't get me wrong: I do believe in the power of positive thinking. I believe that you can make wishes come true by envisioning, requesting, chanting, praying, screaming, drawing a picture of it...all of that mumbo jumbo. But I also allow space for the other side of life, which possesses its own dark and regal strength. 

Weather and emotions don't always need a happy face stamped on it.

Besides, I'm a little creepy and hollow anyway!

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi ~

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