The Positive Power of Negative Thinking http://nyti.ms/MFnjaz
Last week, I asked what people thought of Purpose; the idea that we each have a single Purpose. I received truly lovely feedback, much of which was at odds with what I think is the current overwhelming view of Life Purpose, ie:
Finding Your Purpose = Winning Life
I am obviously tinged with a certain ire, if you cannot tell from the above statement, for I believe that this focus on Purpose has been incredibly detrimental for many people, including myself. Rather than helping, I have come to wonder if this search for Purpose hurts people’s psyches more times than not. And why? Because, to put it bluntly, many of us are unable to discover that Passion, that Idea, that Thing that will bring our lives meaning and so we feel that we are somehow failing.
This idea is so huge; so encompassing; so IMPORTANT, I have fallen under the weight of it; as have others I have spoken with, all with the same weary, hallowed-eye look.
Then I realized something, something key:
Purpose is based entirely on Faith.
Faith that there is a higher being; that there is a plan; and that Something is influencing our lives and ourselves.
What do I mean? Well, Purpose must come from somewhere.
God and Purpose
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).
“And I did not create the Jinn and mankind except to worship Me…” (Quran, 51:56-58).
Oprah and Purpose
“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born. And how you become truly alive.”
** HAHAHA! **
Did I just put Oprah and God on the same level?
I am pointing out that one most have Faith in God to believe His words on Purpose (whether it is a Lord’s Purpose, or the Sole Purpose of worshiping Him).
Just the same, one most also have Faith in the intelligence and wisdom of Oprah to believe what she says as well.
Now, I came to the conclusion some time ago that faith is a choice. For example, we can choose to believe that God exists, or we can choose to believe that he does not exist. (Side note, Oprah does exist, in case you were wondering).
Personally, I decided to not make a decision on the matter. After studying for years, I came to the conclusion that there is no undeniable indication there is a God; just as much as there is no undeniable indication that there is Not a God.
It is up to Humans to decide on what we believe. Sure, society and family have key roles in belief a lot of the time… we believe in what those around us believe more times than not… but, it is still us choosing one thing or something else.
We get to decide.
And I think that is very much the same way with Purpose. I have spent hours in deep and dark depressions because I was trying to find my Purpose. I am not a passionate person (Passion, apparently, being the road map to Purpose); so I do not have anything that I am passionate about. I enjoy things. I like to read… some of the times. I like to watch movies… some of the times. I find archetypes and symbolism interesting… but I would not label those interests as passion.
(Even now, I am tempted to wonder if my interest in archetypes and symbolism is something Purposeful… even after hours and hours and hours of trying to retrain my brain from thinking in this way)
In the end, albeit not as thoroughly as I wish, I have come to the conclusion that Purpose is as much based on faith and choice, as believing in anything. And as such, it is a choice to believe that Purpose is a hyped up term that is propagated to help the human masses feel like there is something more to their lives and the world that they live in.
It is a choice to believe that there is a Purpose for everyone.
I tend to believe the former; which is bleak. But, it is like a story I once heard about Christian missionaries traveling to the far reaches of Denmark. The missionaries met with these pagan worshipers as they huddled around roaring fires inside their halls, darkness howling with deep ice and frigid cold outside windows shuttered to protect against nature; and the missionaries told these Norsemen and women that the frozen wasteland out beyond their warm halls was like their pagan religion.
It was cold. Unknown. Blackness.
But Jesus Christ brought light.
The missionaries told them if they believe in the light and the warmth of Jesus Christ, that no matter the hardships of their lives, they would be met with peace and rest in the afterlife.
From what I understand, many Norse decided to believe in Christ.
They chose to believe in something that brought them comfort; and there is absolutely, positively nothing at all wrong with this choice.
As today, in the face of terrorism, and globalism, and most importantly ease of life in the first world especially, there exists a need to feel as if there is a reason for living. Any reason. And that is NOT a terrible thing.
Sometimes people really do seem to find that Purpose. I have seen it; that all encompassing joy in what they are doing in their lives.
Kudos to them (said only with a tiny itty bit of sarcasm).
But then there are the Others… cough cough… me. I start to think about Purpose and I spiral into depression because I am WASTING TIME!
I AM NOT LIVING MY POTENTIAL!
I am FAILING!
So I choose not to go down that path.
In this day and age it is sometimes hard to remember that we have choices. When working the jobs we work, we think we HAVE to be there because we have to pay bills, and we have to support our families. Sometimes it doesn’t feel as if we have a choice when dealing with difficult family relationships, or hard friendships, or illness, or pain.
Trapped and shackled.
I am achingly familiar with these two feelings.
But, despite the risk of sounding trite and new-agey… there is always a choice in how we approach anything and all things.
For instance, lately, the fact that the U.S. President Elect is who it is, feels like a choice that has been taken away from me. But honestly, I can choose to fight him and his administration by getting involved. Or , I can decide to try to give him a chance, or attempt to change how I view him (yeah, no).
Or I can decide to do something else.
There are always choices. And this, more than finding a purpose or believing in a God, gives me hope. I get to decide how I want to live my life. Sometimes it feels like there is something working against me, but that again is only a belief, a thought, and I can work to change that thought into something more productive, or more…hopeful.
My PERSONAL conclusion, then, is that Purpose does not exist, not for me at least, and that I will live in the moment, not worrying about if I am living Right or if I am walking the Right Path; rather, only focusing on whether or not I am living well, and by those rules that I have placed upon myself… to be kind, giving, and to never cease asking questions in attempt to understand.
And that is my choice.
Be well, lovely readers, in this Holiday season and beyond… and remember, there is ALWAYS a choice.
I have come to the conclusion that humans do not have individual Purpose; that there is no such thing as a specific Reason for an individual’s existence.
This goes against almost all new age theory… you know, the Martha Beck and Oprah Winfrey theory sect… but I am fairly certain.
Of course. It is all belief. There is no way to prove Purpose or No Purpose, no more than there is any way to prove God or No God.
Unless maybe purpose is existing and being content with existence. Or trying to find happiness in day-to-day endeavors.
What do you think, dear readers? I am curious to know before I write on about my reasoning.
Like so many in the wake of the presidential election, as an American, a liberal, and a democrat, I am left to wonder what I should do now. I have an almost overwhelming need to do something, but I am not yet certain what that will look like or how it will manifest.
The irony of this situation is that I have been rudderless the last several years. I have poked around and done different things. Many of these pursuits have been passing interests that have sputtered into nothing at all; others have been gigantic shipwrecks that I am still trying to avoid drowning from (and succeeding at for the most part).
To have a direction, a goal, is something I have searched for, and longed for, since becoming a stay at home mom. Though raising a human being is, arguably, one of the most important jobs in the entirety of history and the world, I (most ashamedly on certain days), wanted something a little different, something that I felt had a direct impact on the world, rather than a secondary impact based on how well I raised my child (though that too is important, obviously).
I wanted to have my cake and eat it too… and as most people with similar situations, I never did much about it.
And then the election. Before the election I would have avoided speaking about my political and ideological views. The flagship of my stance was my avoidance in telling people who I supported in the election and why; however, since the election, I have realized that my voice, though limited to those few I know and the few readers I have here, is a powerful one, and by not speaking up, there is a possibility that I had a hand (no matter how small) in our current political (national) situation.
Therefor *deep breath*:
I support Hillary Clinton.
Not only am I #withher, but I am #stillwithher.
I doubt very much that she will ever again be as central in politics as she was these last two years, but what she does and what she has done, continues to inspire me.
When the going is incredibly tough and bordering on impossible, she continued(s) to fight. I know the tiredness that stems from being a woman in a male-centric world. A week ago, I would have never talked about the sexism that I have known and seen my whole life… put on a happy face, understand there is progress etc…. but I am done with that way of approaching this world.
I am done with being a people-pleaser.
Because, I AM exhausted.
I am so tired of fighting against social norms and expectations, but, because we as a nation and world are nowhere near where I thought we were in regards to equal rights for women, or African Americans, or Latinos, or *fill in the blank here, you know who you are*… I am going to keep fighting in hopes that one day I can stop being tired.
Because if Hillary can continue fighting, then, damnit, so can I.
The Yellow Brick Road
But what does that look like?
Therein lies that most important question.
Do I start speaking out? Do I start posting things on my twitter? Do I go back to facebook (after a year away) and start engaging with others… including those whose views are, at times, violently opposed to mine?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am beyond scared to stir the pot. I have read the stories of doxing and that shit is terrifying. I have a young son! The mama instinct in me roars at the thought that my political viewpoints, or social viewpoints, will be expressed at the expense of my son’s safety.
And then I hear what I am saying (or read what I am typing in this case), and I am horrified. Sickened. Disgusted.
Because the very fact that I am scared to voice an opinion because of the possibility of a negative fallout is the exact opposite of the very ideology that created this country.
In other words: unacceptable.
Because my message is simple: all humans matter and love trumps hate.
That kind of message shouldn’t cause violence or stalking or internet trolls, but it does… as I am sure you all are aware. Of course, deciding to come out of the shadows is not really doing anything… yet, but it is a first step towards something.
Where do I go from here, then?
I have fluttered on and off of the idea of going back to journalism, in a grassroots way at least. I am a news junky, so perhaps I could take what I am reading, analyze it and put it in historical perspectives. I don’t know if that will make any difference in changing people’s minds towards inclusiveness and understanding, but maybe it will?
Of course, I realize that kind of blogging is hardly be popular.
I know, through interacting with online blogs for awhile, that most people want messages of hope… they want to feel good after reading a post.The uplifting stuff gets clicks, ask any blogger out there. The negative is largely ignored.
Unfortunately, sometimes that feel good moment is at the expense of thinking.
(Ouch. That was hard to write… still haven’t gotten rid of the “I don’t want to offend people stigma yet.”)
So, if I was to follow a path of journalism in the way that I am imagining it, likely, I will lose a few of you in the process, but maybe I will gain a few more. I honestly don’t know. I DO know I want to do something to promote critical thinking, thereby leading (as it always has and will), to acceptance and understanding. That is the direction I want to help our country move towards (after being shown we have such a very far way to go).
The next step is figuring out how my contribution will look.
What about you, dear readers? Do you find yourself called to action, and if so, in what way? How are you doing it? What is your reality like now?
And if not a call to action, what is your reaction to this post 11/9 world?
What are your thoughts?
I have spent this week mourning.
My husband does not understand. Though he is not in anyway, shape or form a Trump supporter, he is a political historian and economist. He sees this week’s election in the terms of politics and the market; neither of which are much to comment on. A Republican (albeit a faaar right one) is now in office. There is a peaceful transfer of power underway. The market recovered after it’s initial 700 point dive.
These are the things he responds and reacts to, and, as such, wonders why I have been in constant tears over the last four days.
The grief was/is real. I did not sleep Tuesday night. I spent most of Wednesday crying. Thursday was a little better. Today I have only cried twice.
My husband asked me why, truly puzzled. I could only shrug, because you see, at first, I just knew that I grieved. I grieved for my country, feeling a deep sense of despondency, a sadness so big and so gigantic that I could not find words to describe the depth and breadth of my hurting.
Wednesday felt the worst. Dark and bleak. The rain incessantly fell on the car windshield as I sat sobbing out front of my house, talking to my grandmother, begging her to tell me that these things pass, that this is not the first of the United State’s mistakes and we have emerged before, and we will again.
She told me that this was true, citing those traumas she had lived through.
She tried to comfort me.
I could not be comforted. I railed against Republicans. I was so filled with anger at the people who seemed to have voted for racism, sexism, bigotry, homophobia, xenophobia, and kicking the wheelchair of children with cerebral palsy (an affliction my brother struggles to live with).
They voted for someone who admitted to being a sexual predator! And many because they just “didn’t like Hillary.” I was so angry. I could not even look on the face of my best friend’s husband because he voted for Trump. He disgusted me.
I KNEW, I knew I was being irrational and ignorant. I KNEW it was/is not that black and white. And underneath the anger, I felt kernels of shame, because I knew that half of the population who voted for Trump were not so simply defined by the message that Trump spouted from his pulpit.
And as Wednesday moved to Thursday, I started to emerge from the anger. I started to think a little more clearly, and I slowly started to wonder if maybe, just maybe this might be a good thing, healthy for our country. Maybe because we now see what is wrong, what is out there, what is actually going on, we can start to address those things.
My husband calls the election results the impact of geoeconomical downturn; I think he is right. And I get it, I really do. I have lived in those towns decimated by jobs being shipped overseas. I have seen the meth addiction (though I moved away before seeing the opioid one). I have known those people who carry a feeling of hopelessness about them… who believe that no-one cares about them… who believe that they are getting the shaft.
And largely, they have a point.
The media didn’t care, or didn’t realize. I didn’t care. Most of the democrat party didn’t care or didn’t realize.
… but we do now.
And I hope, intellectually, that by having these people’s plights highlighted for all the world to see, that they will be helped, their lives will be made better, and in doing so, their fear and hatred of The Other (the seed of all racism, bigotry, sexism etc.), will disappear with understanding, education and exposure.
This is where I am intellectually: Hopeful tinged with a touch of pessimism.
But. My heart hurts. The tears roll down my face. I worry about all those minorities that I both know and don’t know. I read about the hatred that is being found in schools, SCHOOLS for heaven’s sake, and I just can’t even comprehend the totality of what has happened.
And that brings me to today.
At first, I didn’t understand what I was grieving about. Was I grieving for humanity? For the protection of our planet? For our future as a country?
All of those things are worthy of grief, yes, but in reality, I realized today that I am grieving the loss of an illusion.
You see, dear readers, I thought we were so much farther along. I thought we were a nation moving in progressive ways. I thought we were more open then ever to homosexuality; and we were at least having conversations about Black Lives and police brutality.
In my circles and in the media it seemed that we understood that Muslim does not equal terrorist, and Latino is a rich, vibrant culture to be celebrated and welcomed.
I thought the entirety of our nation, when putting aside politics and religion, was progressing, learning kindness and acceptance, or at least having conversations that would lead to those outcomes.
I was wrong. So incredibly, terribly, horribly wrong because we are not there yet, and we might not be for a long time.
And that is why I grieve.
I grieve for a nation that hasn’t made it to that place, and I grieve because my thinking it had was all smoke and mirrors.
I grieve for a nation that was of my own imagination.
Because, you see, I thought they were a basket of deplorables. I thought it was a handful of people at Trump rallies.
I was so wrong. Ignorantly wrong. Arrogantly wrong.
And I grieve for my loss.
I could end this post there, leaving it with grief, but we move forward because what else can we do, and it is what we SHOULD do.
Moving forward, we will try to protect those who are in the line of fire; try to protect our Earth; try to protect the inalienable rights of EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING.
And hopefully, we will try to figure out what to do for those who voted for Trump.
Friends, the problem and the solution is so vast and so multileveled, that I don’t even know if it can be fixed. I look at my country and I see so much work to be done. Is it possible to change the geoeconomical forecast for those who overwhelmingly voted for Trump? I don’t know. We live in a global world, and anyone telling you otherwise is lying to you. Those manufacturing jobs are not coming back. It doesn’t matter how many tariffs you put on China. There is always India.
And there might be a resurgence of mining jobs etc., maybe even a small boom in those West Virginia and Kentucky towns… until there isn’t because there isn’t anything more to dig up (or, policy puts a stop on fossil fuels under another president in the future).
Change has already started, is already changing the landscape of all. And not Brexit or Trump is going to be able to stop globalization or the “fall of the white man.”
And IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A FALL.
We, ALL OF US, must redefine how we live in this world and how we fit into it; and that includes those who voted for Trump. There is a plight. Absolutely. There is terrible fissures in our country. People need help. And just as I will work to protect and help those affected by Trump and his followers, I will work to protect and help the followers too. Because, my illusion wants to become reality, and I want it to become reality.
We are humans in this together. I want that future and I will work hard and tirelessly towards trying to make that future exist.
But not yet.
Tomorrow I will let go of the anger and hurt and disgust.
Today, I am still crying.
I plop down on the couch.
Plopping. That is an accurate description. A faceless mass plopping down into life, sliding and slipping and settling into all the cracks.
Plopping. To suggest: putty; play dough; poop.
Plop down onto the couch and stare at the television.
Or the wall.
Stare at a wall for long enough and the white starts fading into shadows, which starts fading into faces, and then my mind is off somewhere else and I am thinking about the future.
To be in the present, rather than moving into the future. This is not a bad thing. The future and all its uncertainties is what causes the plopping to begin with; as such being in the present is a good thing. To plop is to anchor, to settle down into, to move towards the point of contact (the floor, the couch, the cracks).
It is wise, then, to plop?
Is plopping a life saving act?
I once wanted to be a CNN news reporter. I was twelve. I remember standing in the apartment we lived in and watching a female news reporter in some Middle Eastern country. It was the middle of the summer. I was waiting for my brother (a baby) to wake up so I could get him before he woke my mom up from her sleep (she worked graveyard). It was warm already, the sun coming through the drawn blinds, but I did not notice the light or the summer day outside, I was riveted by the woman on the screen and that rush of feeling, of knowing that she was who I wanted to be when I grew up.
I am not a CNN news reporter.
I wanted to be an educational researcher for Sesame Street. I wanted to help craft educational programs and puppets that would introduce children to the wonders of readings, and laughing, and using their imagination. I wanted to help children learn.
I do not work for Sesame Street.
I wanted to be a literature professor. I wanted to introduce individuals to the wonder, complexity, and importance of literature. I wanted to show people that literature is one of our most powerful tools as human beings to understand, comprehend, and communicate with one another.
I am not a literature professor.
There are other careers that I could highlight here, but I think you, my dear readers, get the point.
As I sit here this morning in my bathrobe waiting for my son to wake up so I can get him ready for school, I think about all those dreams that I have had through the years. These dreams have not turned to reality.
There are a lot of different reasons. I was not focused enough. I was not driven enough. I was not willing to make the necessary sacrifices. I take the full blame for these dreams burning into ash and drifting away on that breeze of time.
But sometimes I wonder what the bloody f*cking hell is wrong with me.
Like this morning.
Why did I stand in my own way? Why did I not make those necessary decisions?
Why did I not just do it!!?
I know a lot of us have similar feelings. Hell, most everyone I know regrets something in their past, but I used to not be like that… the regret thing. Lately though, it has been like a damn monkey on my back. Regret. Regret. Regret. Drilling into my head. There is absolutely nothing I can do about what I did and did not do, but I keep coming back to this idea of history being a teacher for the future.
What can I learn?
Dear readers, what are your thoughts on this?
Do you deal in regret? Do you refuse to deal in regret?
How does regret, disappointment,
self-hatred play into how you make decisions in the future?
Let me know.
Healing to you today, lovelies. Though the sun is shining through the blinds this summer morning, the gloom is heavy and secure on my shoulders.
Eeyore you all, Eeyore.
Rain clouds, indeed.
Shifting perception. Not in the way of a camera focusing and then going out of focus; rather in the way of shifting your gaze minutely to the left or right.
Stare at a point of something in front of you then shift your sight just slightly to the right.
The perception changes, if only a small amount.
I have taken this into consideration recently in how to work through my husband’s disappointment in my real estate pursuit. I really, really dislike real estate. A lot. A great deal. And as I do not have to do real estate, I have decided pretty much unequivocally that it is not for me. Even if I did have to do something like real estate, I would forego the “flexibility” of this hellish career for something a lot less flexible… like stocking shelves at the grocery store.
Anyway, off on a tangent: my point is that my husband is very disappointed and discouraged in my “quitter attitude.” I think he wanted me to be part of the real estate world because this kind of sales profession is his world. I believe, in a way, he felt a comradeship with me that does not exist otherwise. I mean, we have other connections and similar likes, but as sales is so much part of his life, my being in sales felt warm and fuzzy to him.
I feel bad about this, of course, because I hate the sales world he thrives in. He is very good at sales, and in many ways really enjoys the world.
I, on the other hand, pretty much tucked my tail between my legs and ran whimpering the other way. I should have known, of course… but as all things and every thing, hindsight is 20/20.
And now he is disappointed. And upset. And irritated.
At first, I took his reactions on as my own. I became defensive. I felt guilty. Bad. Like I had FAILED (again for the millionth time in my life), and I was down deep and dark in that old familiar way of the world sinking down on me. Thankfully, over the last four months I have regained a level of yoga practice and meditation that at least slowed the downward spiral. As such, I was able to create space and time to move through the experiences and the emotions, allowing an epiphany moment in the shower:
I must shift my perception of the situation.
As I remind my son on a pretty daily basis: we are only in charge of ourselves. We are not responsible for others and their actions. Ever.
Apparently, I need to be reminded of this daily as well, because I forgot. I forgot that my husband’s emotions of disappointment and irritation about me leaving real estate are HIS emotions. These are HIS reactions.
I am not responsible for them.
I think so many of us forget to follow our path, our instincts, emotions, body, and heart because we perceive what others think as a guidepost. But what others think is never a guidepost.
Of course, there are consequences to our actions; however, what other people think is not on you… ever. Can your actions cause rifts in a friendship, or family? Of course, and how YOU react to those things is entirely your responsibility, but never how THEY act or react.
Group think is a real and honest to goodness thing. It is an evolutionary pattern that has existed for centuries to create safety… safety in numbers, right? However, as we slowly emerge from the era of hunter and gatherer (and if you don’t think we are still in this evolution pattern, take a look around), trusting our own Truth, and our own Path is becoming something of more importance.
Now, I know my thoughts on this are very much dictated by a belief that we all have a reason for existence… a special and individualized purpose for our lives.
I also think, though, that our individualized purpose is for the greater good. As such, it is incredibly important to trust ourselves; to be able to root down, to move through life with that connection to something Bigger… despite, or perhaps even because of, how other people react.
So. Perception. Shifting the gaze just a little bit to the right.
A little bit to the left.
To see something new in something familiar.
Sometimes you have to start from the beginning, though you’ve been to the beginning so many times you have lost count. Or maybe, that’s what you tell yourself and you have never truly stripped everything down to the very beginning, to the bare bones.
Maybe you’ve only pretended to return to step one, but never actually allowed yourself a new start; and perhaps everything has changed so much, that you are not lost or blocked, but adhering to a kind-type that no longer exists.
What if you are using the operating system of your 18-year-old self?
Have I grown and adapted; or have I changed so completely that I am truly no longer the person I was (and have been believing I am) but someone entirely different?
Wouldn’t that kind of change (not transformation, not growth, but Different) be something that requires a complete restart? Not even an overhaul, rather a complete and final wipe… a factory reset?
What would that look like?
More than likely, every single one of you reading this is a writer or has been a writer at some point. As such, it is likely that every single one of you has heard the advice: “show don’t tell.”
But here is my thought for today… showing is a photograph. Showing is a painting or a movie or another visual art form.
Writing, though, is for getting into the brain. In no other median can an idea or thought be represented so clearly, so absolutely. Sure, there are language barriers… the very idea of loss of meaning between writer and reader… but there is a pureness that is allowed in this form of communication that is not quite has well represented in the visual forms.
I have always loved taking photographs. There is a way that I can capture sunlight colored through a sprinkler’s rain that I cannot quite catch merely with words.
But I can tell you with my words what I was thinking when I took the photograph. I can tell you of the feeling of joy, a kind of heated pressure in my chest to see the sprinkler in the sun. I can tell you how I felt an anticipation for summer mixed with a little bit of wonder as my five-year-old ran through that freezing cold water.
I am able to describe how my contentment felt like a warm blanket of sunshine on my shoulders; and how during those moments I knelt on the wet grass, moisture seeping through the knees of my jeans, lightness permeated the air and happy floated by.
That is power, my friends.
That is beauty.
Words. They scare me.
How do you, dear readers/writers, craft your sentences?
Slowly, with reverence; or quickly, with little thought to each individual piece making up the entirety of meaning?
How do you create?