Saturday, October 5, 2013

Let Us Lay Negativity to Rest

When I woke up this morning (Saturday, 5 October) it was dark. At 4:15 am, that’s no surprise. An hour later, a taxi whisked me north across the city to the airport. Later in the morning I arrived in Ottawa to bright, sunny skies. Returning to Toronto, the sky was overcast and the air was cool. At least, for a short time, the Ottawa sun helped to lighten my mood.

I’m a bit tired. Exhausted, actually. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been putting the pedal to the metal. When I’m not flying from one coast to the other, I’m writing, blogging, editing, rewriting, journaling staying focused and working hard to edge my creative projects forward. Staying focused, I’ve managed to complete the rewrite of one novel and have started in on the rewrite of a novella. Writing daily holds me in check, keeps me grounded. And I’m thankful for that. Then there are the other life tasks that have to be done as well, like cooking, laundry and, ugh, cleaning. The days are full and, while I sometimes end up rundown, witnessing my projects come full circle feels good. It offers a sense of accomplishment, and hope.

The glimpse of the sun in Ottawa this morning lightened my mood because, for most of the week, I’ve been carrying with me an experience from last Sunday. Each day we interact with others, coming into contact with some who are extremely positive in life and no matter what obstacles are thrown in their path they simply find a way to soldier on. They don’t impose the negativity swirling about them onto others. Then there are those who thrive on negativity, take an almost joyful pleasure in criticizing others, beating them down. It’s the latter that has preoccupied my mind since Sunday when I had to deal with an extremely negative person who took that joyful pleasure in beating others down.

So my question is this: Why is it that, when things aren’t necessarily going our way in life, that we (this is the royal we some people, not all) find it necessary to tear down those around us? Why can’t we suffer in silence? Or better yet, maybe we should practice the age-old adage: “If you have nothing nice to say then don’t say anything at all.” We live in an age where it seems like it’s not just easier, but more the norm, to criticize, deconstruct, than to try to build something up, attempt to see a silver lining. Watch how celebrities are lambasted for what they wear while walking the red carpet (i.e., the now famous “Sofa Dress” worn by Kim Kardashian at the Met Gala). Harsh reviews kill a movie’s chance at the box office (i.e., The Lone Ranger, After Earth). We may or may not like a film, but we forget that the actors and directors and staff showed up day after day to give their all. We can dash off a 200-word review that pointedly describes why a book is “bad,” forgetting that the author worked tirelessly for months, possibly years, on that novel that, for them, is the pinnacle of a dream. We may not hesitate to tell someone that their cupcakes were dry (and that ours are better!) when it’s not the cupcakes that count but the effort and spirit of generosity.

I’m stumped. I know that we all face challengers in life. There are days when we stumble across the crusty sales clerk, the snappish flight attendant, the grumpy bus driver. There are days when the service we expect from our bank, normally stellar, is off the mark. There are days when the wait in the supermarket checkout line feels unnecessarily long. I don’t understand the necessity, in such circumstances, to speak rudely to others, to belittle them, to use them as our personal punching bag. Where’s the humanity? There are times when it is necessary to provide critical feedback (constructive criticism if you will), but sometimes, in the heat of the moment, I think we need to stop and breath and think before we speak and act.

It takes a lot of energy to be negative all the time. It almost becomes a state of mind, and it is, quite frankly, unattractive. Maybe that’s why I do my best to lead a positive life. I smile and laugh a lot, which seems to be contagious. I guess I’ve learned to not take myself, and life, too seriously but to try and simply enjoy the journey. Climbing up the mountains or wading through the valleys, I remind myself of the blessing in my life my partner, family and friends. I try to focus on what really matters to me, and that, in turn, allows me to see the beauty that is this world.
Nhat Hanh reminded us, “People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong. Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?” This is what I try to do each and every day.

1 comment:

  1. Very well put! First of all, I am glad to see you have accomplished so much creatively, despite your busy schedule. I think your point is well-taken, however. We should look at the good things we have and not dwell on the bad ones. You are indeed one of my big blessings. I am currently sick and am off to the duty clinic today, but I consider myself to be blessed with my family and friends. I hope we will talk soon!