February 2015 Archives
I find the cult of optimism and positive thinking to be one of the strangest scourges of modern times, a bizarre rash of attempts at self-hypnotism and projection whose costs become clear if and when the dreamer awakens.
I say that, though, as someone who doesn't fit. I don't think everyone in search of positive reinforcement and focus should shift to the negative path. I suspect that just as people have their own thermostats for comfortable temperature, people have their own needs for the warmth of positive thinking or the cold of negativity. The challenge is finding a mix that's comfortable for a crowd.
I need that thermostat set low because I have too many ideas. I need filters to keep them down. I'm willing to write without knowing, walking into fields I don't understand well because I think many more of us should understand. I know many things at a level only slightly deeper than the stories I tell about them. I want to change the world and hide in a cave, to connect with people yet retreat from exhausting conversation, to build community while enabling individuals to follow their dreams.
Somewhere in that I need a pause button, and I'm not good at providing it.
For me, optimism is dangerous. If I say "I was optimistic" or even "I am optimistic" it's a criticism, not a compliment. Optimism invites me to attempt too many things and get too few of them done, a constant hazard. Even at my current level of negativity, I rarely complete projects the way that I'd like, because I see too many other great opportunities. I like many of the results, enough of the results, but I see the costs and wow do I feel the overwhelm.
For many of my friends, the challenge seems to be getting started, convincing themselves that a dream is worth pursuing despite a world full of people who might not value it. For me, the challenge is keeping my fondness for lost causes and difficult projects down, so I can actually get a few of them done amidst the clutter.
For me, constraints are valuable, necessary, and need to be found in the world. You may have a different approach. Let's try to find ways to walk together without having to follow the same path.