“I love your positive attitude!” said many to others.
“Your positive attitude is amazing!” said yet many more to the same others.
“I don’t know how you can keep such a positive attitude!” said many more yet to the same others who were starting to find this all just a bit tedious.
“Bleccchhhh!” said the others to themselves, letting the many off the hook since they didn’t bleccchhhh in their faces.
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
“The early bird gets the worm.”
“It’s always darkest just before the dawn.”
“There are no words that can express my sympathy . . . but . . . keep your chin up. Maintain a positive outlook. It will be OK. Everything will be all right! It will all work out in the end. Time heals all wounds.” said many who revealed themselves to be idiots in one sentence, who, admitting that words would not work went on to offer superfluous words as if they were a magic incantation with all the force of a Chinese buffet’s fortune cookie.
There is no positive that is not anchored in the negative, nor born amid the negative. Just as positive current will not flow in a DC circuit unless the circuit is completed by being tied to the negative pole, our positive attitude is meaningless unless there is some negative that is solidly connected.
“If you have a positive attitude, press 1,” said the computer generated voice on the customer help-line at Good Life Industries. “If you have a negative attitude, press 2.”
Not having such a good life at the moment, and not too happy with the way things were working out, I looked at the 2 button on my phone. Mashing 2 would be the only evidence of any positiveness in my attitude since it would be an admission that I was hoping for some relief from my negative attitude. I decided to be honest. I would no longer fake it. I would be brave and admit my negativity. I mashed 2. The response was immediate.
“Please call back later. Goodbye,” said the computer generated voice on the customer help-line at Good Life Industries. Then I heard a click and the dial tone. The voice had no malice, as computer generated voices don’t reveal emotion like our human voices do. It was simply, “Goodbye.”
Now if the automated attendant at the customer service department of Good Life Industries doesn’t want to deal with negative attitudes, who does? Where do we put our negative attitude? Do we display it, or hide it? If we are to hide it, then how deep?
I think of high-school cheerleaders on the side of the football field, full of pep, shouting, jumping, cheering, chanting, as if their voices could shield the eyes of the spectators from the scoreboard, which didn’t show anything too cheerful. In fact, it may be argued that the scoreboard had a negative attitude, though the scoreboard didn’t care; it was only reporting the truth. It was the truth that was negative. The truth was that the score at half-time was 56-0. The home team and its fans were not having such a positive experience.
“Well, there is a whole second half. And we’re only behind by 56 points. We’ll show them a thing or two,” said Rafe, the useless optimist, a relentless purveyor of attitude positivity, pointed out to Ralph, the negative soul next to him, the one eating a dried-out hot-dog that was bound to have been left over from the previous week’s game.
Ralph looked at his hot-dog, his $5.00 hot-dog. He looked at the scoreboard. He looked at Rafe seated next to him, dripping with useless optimism. The positivity extruded from Rafe’s every pore, weeping down onto the bleachers like slime from a slug. The look on Ralph’s face turned to scorn.
“Don’t they have the most delicious hot dogs?” Rafe then asked, smiling, showng Ralph the whitest and straightest teeth ever seen in East Mississippi, more teeth than half-a dozen average Mississippians could sport, according to some.
“Dammit, Rafe! Don’t you ever shut up?” Ralph demanded, not as if it were a question to which he expected an answer, but a demand for Rafe’s silence, Ralph thinking in the same instant that the hot dog would serve better as a decorative addition to Rafe’s toboggan than it would as a meal, a destined to be six-Rolaid meal.
“Humph!” snorted Rafe, the useless optimist, no longer feeling the love, abruptly rising and leaving in a huff, his too heavy cologne choking several as he passed by: a veritible cloud of positivity negtively affecting everyone as he sullenly walked by, seeking smiling faces, seeking to reinforce his confirmation bias, which is a terrific redundancy.
Glad he was gone, Ralph took another bite of his hot-dog. “If I’m gonna pay $5.00 for a bad hot-dog, you can bet I’m gonna eat it in peace,” said Ralph, out loud but to himself, yet loud enough so others could hear, adding, “Were it not for the mustard, this thing would be inedible.” All the others seemed glad Rafe was gone, too, Rafe and his endless cheerful chirping: Rafe of the positive attitude.
No wildebeest ever said to his companions, “Look how strong and beautiful is the Crocodile that’s eating me.” The wildebeest likely had somewhat of a negative attitude as he was being eaten, towards crocodiles, both the beautiful and the ugly, and towards being chomped on by whichever type of crocodile was doing the chomping. The rest of the wildebeests likely didn’t stand around in the river admiring the crocodile. Instead they fled in terror as their herd-mate was being eaten, thinking, perhaps, “Better him than me.” I’m not sure wildebeests verbalize their thoughts internally or externally, but I’m pretty sure they don’t like getting eaten nearly as much as a crocodile likes eating one. Which one has the positive attitude? The one thus eaten? The one eating? The ones that got away? The still-hungry crocodile with no wildebeest of his own? Somewhere, in the mix of all that, there is an equally negative attitude for every positive one.
In Garrison Keillor’s fictional Lake Woebegone, all the children are above average. I love this. It sounds like something straight from your local Chamber of Commerce, which are harbingers of a useless positivity such as has never been seen in the history of the world. “All our children are above average.” What average? All your children can’t even be above your local average. The average is the average. Some are above the average, some are below. Everyone can’t be above the average, else the average shifts so that below-ness consumes half those being averaged. Thanks, Garrison, for giving us the most egregious example of the useless optimist. To what average are those being averaged thus averaged? It is like being stuck in a hallway of opposing mirrors, each reflection bending away towards infinity, slightly less perfect than the one before it, as the imperfections in the mirrors multiply themselves infinitely, unless the mirrors are above average, which is only the briefest respite as eventually the infinite has the time to latch on whatever imperfections the above-average mirrors still have. Don’t think twice about it; infinity has more than a little patience; it can out-last you; it is not in a hurry.
This is not written as veiled code for some evil twist in my leukemia. If you think that, you are making things up in your own mind, your negatively twisted mind. Where is your positive attitude? Why would you expect me to keep a positive attitude when your own bends towards the negative? Hmmmm! Am I talking to you, or me?
The Book of Joel, Chapter 2:28 says:
God was not kidding about that. Nor does he indicate that any of the above is limited to reinforcing a positive attitude.
Having reached the state of OLD as some would define it, since I automatically seem to be given the senior discount at restaurants without having to ask for it which is positive and negative all at the same time, my vision days are over. But I am firmly entrenched in the realm of dreams. If I am ever led to take the time to share with you a dream I had that had you in it, which I would not do lightly, you should take the time to listen. In the Genesis narrative, the Pharaoh Potiphar had a dream. Joseph interpreted it. Potiphar prepared himself and the nation. They all prospered. The dream was negative. The result was positive. How can you have one without the other?
Things are not always what they seem to be. Where there is a positive, there is a negative. You can’t have Yin without Yang. The equation will balance. The reaction will balance. And we all can’t be above average. A full quarter of the nation has even been consigned to the basket of deplorables by those who certainly don’t think they belong there themselves. Is the basket of deplorables below average? Where do you fit?
I’m going to bed now. I’m going to dream. It will only be as positive as the amount of it that can return to the earth via the negative pole, which is the charge of the earth, itself….negative.
Just remember, in the future, everyone will earn more than the median income. I should know. I dreamed about it.
It was not a good dream.
“I find your positive outlook inspiring,” said one who needed no inspiration. Hmmmmmm! Think about that for a while.
By the way, you’ll understand me standing at attention with my hand over my heart and facing the flag when the National Anthem is played, even if this offends you. If you don’t understand it, then you will pardon me. If you don’t pardon me, then you most definitely will indulge me. You can contemplate yourself caught between those opposing mirrors I referred to earlier as the song plays on. It will be over long before you catch your final glimpse of yourself.
This post is what you get when I don’t sleep.
©2016 Mississippi Chris Sharp