“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in.
A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.”— Bill Vaughn
WRAPPING IT UP
I’m no Pollyanna. In fact, I often call on my alter ego, Pollybollocks, to back me up. She’s not shy about voicing her rather acerbic opinion that not everybody thinks threatening clouds have a bit of silver tucked in the lining. Often the grass is not greener on the other side of the conundrum and if it is then most likely some horrible Monsanto product was at work there. Light at the end of the tunnel may very well be the oncoming train.
If it takes seventeen muscles to smile and forty-three to frown, why not employ both expressions for a better face work out? Surely the combination, a kind of smilates, is the best training regimen for a person who is aware, who has a sense of humor but cannot, no matter how hard she tries, see the humor in the likes of Rick Perry or Michele Bachman. We laughed uproariously at the verbal antics of GWB, shared knowing looks as he stumbled through his candidacy. We know how that went. Then we laughed some more when he became the fuck up in the White House, albeit with a little less joi de vivre.
“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.”
This is a quote famously attributed to a rather impressive woman who was an outspoken Pacifist and a renowned author. She fought for women’s rights and championed the rights of people with disabilities. But Helen Keller, apart from being a genuine Lefty, was also, famously, blind. Before that huff of indignation swells, hear me out. It’s not about what Helen Keller may or may not have actually said. It’s how we bend ourselves, like old Hallmark cards shoved in the back of a drawer, or hang our framed flowery optimism in the hallway and keep our integrity shackled to positive aphorisms that have slipped from their context while everything around us is falling apart.
We aren’t sunflowers, so why risk being hypnotized by sunshine while the powers that continue to be play their evil game in the dark, behind closed doors and on luxury yachts under the kind of sunshine we’ll never afford? I have a feeling if sunflowers could talk they would be pretty pissed off at the beating human beings have given the planet. “Where are the honeybees?” “What the fuck is going on with all this fracking?” “Is that a chemtrail overhead or are you just not glad to see me down here, facing up at the sun?” And before you chide that it’s corporations that are ruining the planet, remember: Corporations are persons now.
If you only look on the bright side then you may very well be blind to the darkness unfolding behind it.
If “Hope” and “Change” are the words you still cling to after 3 years of not only disappointing, but also dangerous returns on your investment in optimism then you’ve kept your face to the sun far too long.
Making resolutions this time of year is, of course, a form of optimism. One gathers the courage to face their demons and, once and for all, tackle them. Procrastination can surely be wrestled with and I know it’s something I’ll get around to. Eventually.
I have every confidence that I will reactivate my love of and pursuit of printmaking. A wonderful man who works with The Mister has neatly and expertly sharpened my woodcutting tools, some of which belonged to my father. I have a good supply of rice paper that has remained untouched since I last put down my chisels and knives too long ago.
I’ll write because when I don’t, I don’t feel well.
And the songwriting will grow with The Mister and me. We have stories to tell and will continue to do so. He’ll advise me to “Pecker up, Lad,” when I am down and I will laugh. Sometimes.
I’ll pay close attention to friendship. What makes one stronger and what simply detracts? Who can teach me how to be a better friend? Who understands a hug is something one may not necessarily need at any given moment of upheaval but who is there when that embrace is wanted. I’ll strive to take on differences that make us all stronger as a whole.
When something is funny I will laugh. The dangerous differences will not make me laugh. Bumbling right wing contenders for the role of Corporate-Commander-in-Chief will not make me laugh. The present Corporate-Commander-in-Chief will not make me laugh. People who follow a candidate blindly and act as if our country was not well over the dangerous brink will not make me laugh. Trampling of civil liberties, rogue cops and pepper spray will not make me laugh. The death penalty has many volunteers who befriend each other and make each other laugh, but we never laugh about the vengeful system we are working to abolish. A man on death row may inadvertently make me laugh because of his sharp wit but he will also make me cry and he will make me angry. He will show me that the spirit can soar even under the most heinous circumstances. He will also remind me that this is no laughing matter.
I will cherish those friends, new and old, who understand anger and how it can be channeled into something productive, even if it’s just a simple sharing of information. I will cherish ones who re-align me when I veer off road without regard for critical thinking and facts; who will gently tell me I am wrong. I’ll pout, probably, when criticism is not so kindly offered, but I will take it all on if it is well intentioned. If it is not well-intentioned criticism I’ll look for the kernel of truth I’m meant to unearth and then I’ll get my Pollybollocks on and tell them, “Thank you, now fuck off!” Anger, for the sake of it, will leave me inching away, looking for the door. And if I am the culprit, I’ll take my comeuppance, apologize, and learn from it.
Anger and pessimism is often sorted out on long rambling walks. I love a walk in the park, sun shining above and cool crisp air urging me onwards. But the fact is, so often many details of Nature are obscured by strong sunlight. That rock that trips you because the light is in your eyes. An overcast sky makes it easier to pick out the source of all that birdsong in the trees.
My year-end resolutions have been written, in the nick of time, looks like. There are those afore-mentioned passions I will re-ignite like printmaking and the ones to continue stoking, like songwriting. I’ll continue writing stories in short story form, striving for each one to be a little bit better in its own universe. The much-loved screenplay that seems to have taken my writing partner, Lauren, and I a lot of time and no time at all will be finished and prodded into a new life off the page. There may be the beginning of a new novel if I can win my battle with procrastination. There are more personal resolutions I won’t share because I might very well fuck them up. Or I might not. Life is full of surprises.
My glass is half-empty. And I’m fine with that.