I wanted to write about how annoyed I get with bicyclists and people who talk on cell phones in public and how ridiculous cigarette smokers are but I decided to go into a more positive direction which means I’ll also not be talking about commuting as it’s nigh on impossible to have anything positive to say about commuting other than, “today's commute was relatively free of agonizing delays and horrible incidents.” So the gist of all this is that I have to be positive. Oh my lord that can make for some boring writing. Plus how positive can you be in the age of Trump?
Challenges. We claim to like them. I remember as a middle school teacher we were supposed to stop referring to students who were a pain in the arse as “bad kids” or “trouble makers” or even “difficult.” They were to be known as “challenging students.” Oh good a “challenge.” It will be a real “challenge” to teach this kid, hell it might be a real "challenge" to get the little bastard to stay in his seat.
But again I fear that is being negative and my purpose here is to spread sunshine, rainbows, fairy dust and moonbeams and do so in the age of Trump. Speaking of that buffoon. Could his election mark the decline of the US? Sure, some would argue that said decline started awhile back. Maybe with Watergate, or Vietnam or either of the Red Scares. But the country has remained propped up and holding its own although still dispensers of terror from the sky often in the form of drone strikes which have the nasty habit of incinerating innocent people. But at least the US stood for something. (Come to think of it, I’m not sure what it stood for, maybe, to quote the great Groucho Marx, “it stood for plenty.”)
Now we’ve got a megalomaniac bigot with conflicts of interests positively bursting from the seams whose appointing every regressive person he can find to dismantle as many progressive changes as we’ve been able to manage recently. The first Twitter Troll in Chief. The most thin skinned of all presidents, and the least prepared and maybe the one least interested in the job. My goodness a president who can make George W look bad. Seems impossible.
That leads me to another topic, people often say, nothing is impossible. Horseshit. Many things are impossible. It is impossible for me to leap over a ten story building, it is impossible to drink a gallon of battery acid without ill effect, it is impossible for a two month old baby to life an adult elephant. Here is the definition of impossible courtesy of the good folks at Merriam-Webster: Definition of impossible a : incapable of being or of occurring : felt to be incapable of being done, attained, or fulfilled: insuperably difficult.
So that wasn’t all so positive so maybe I should change the topic. Maybe. Then again maybe I’m just not in the mood. Funny thing is that as I write this I’m enjoying about my sixth day in a row with little or no depression*. Longest streak since April. Maybe I’m cured. Yeah I doubt it too. But its good not to be slumped in a chair looking deep into nothing, seeing nothing, hearing nothing feeling only existential pain and wondering if there was ever really such a thing as happiness. Along came some new meds. So now I skip merrily down the street tossing daises in the air and singing a happy song. Oh joy.
Sorry that was another example of a lack of positivity on my part. I’ll try harder. Here we go: I saw a cute squirrel the other day. Reminded me that I grew up with a walnut tree in my backyard which was regularly visited by squirrels. Most of them were skittish and did not like to fraternize with homo sapiens. I remember a few who would approach you if you had a nut in your hand and one particularly bold furry friend who actually took a nut from my hand. I also recall a rabid squirrel. What an awful racket it made and how fearsome it seemed. Amazing that a little furry tailed creature can be so frightening -- but it was -- particularly knowing that its bite would pass along rabies. As a child I was given to believe that the cure for rabies came from a very long thick needle that caused almost as much pain as would rabies.
Movies. I’ve seen two fantastic films this year, the best I’ve seen in theaters since Birdman. The two are (drum roll) Moonlight and Manchester By the Sea. Both have received nearly unanimous critical acclaim and have won some of the early bird film awards for 2016. So in saying they are great movies I’m not exactly breaking new ground. Still this is encouraging, especially in light of the fact that I’ve seen some other very good films. I keep thinking that the movie industry is dying but they keep cranking out the odd excellent film every now and again. It doesn't always seem so because of the flood of stupid comedies and ridiculous action films and zombie films that permeate cineplexes throughout the year.
What’s so good about Moonlight and Manchester is that they don’t pander. They are not targeted to a particular demographic, they aren’t reboots of older films, on another in a series of a franchise or a cinematic version of a comic book. They do not have dazzling special effects, a big Hollywood mega star, a booming soundtrack. They are not rife with cliches or at all predictable. They are honest original films that tell human stories. That’s really all you want out of a film along with good cinematography, proper direction, editing and locations that compliment the story. (Well this part was kind of positive.)
The Holiday of Christmas Season is open us. That means many of you will go to your battle stations to help fight for or against the War on Christmas. The forces trying to “protect” Christmas are in a much superior position. They have great economic strength, millions of adherents to the holiday and traditions galore. One might even argue that there really is no war to speak of. People saying Happy Holidays in place of Merry Christmas may at times be silly and at other times appropriate, but in any case its nothing that’s going to tackle the behemoth that is Christmas. Nor will the removal of a nativity scene or the failure to put a Christmas tree in a public space nor anyone responding to Christmas with an emphatic “bah humbug!” Yes the very notion of a War on Christmas, perpetrated by right wing loonies is laughable. Deck the halls, everyone.
Notice in the above paragraph I did not write: The so-called War on Christmas. I had so-called. It is called that. Why do we need to put a so-called in front of terms? Often it is to demean the term. Why not refer to everything as so-called? The so-called Rocky Mountains, the so-called Jennifer Lawrence, the so-called open heart surgery.
So how’ve I done? Being positive is not so easy. Not when you are in a constant struggle with depression and not when Trump and his gang of conservative zealots is about to pillage the US. But one must try. Optimism never hurt anyone and indeed has helped many. Provided of course that one makes any efforts at their disposable to see that their optimism is not misplaced. Cynicism is an easy trap to fall into and does no good. It’s baby brother pessimism is hardly any better. As Oscar Wilde once said, “a cynic sees the price of everything and the value of nothing.” If we don’t have hope we are lost.
Keep a good thought, everybody.
* I wrote this bit last week. Since then my streak went to seven days then abruptly stopped and now I'm on day four of having the blues. So it goes.