Saturday, December 11, 2010

Musings: "Try Positive"

Looking up at a 2:30 a.m. sky choked with stars so low and bright and pluckable that the world seemed to consist of nothing else, I saw a meteor blaze across the heavens. It was gone in a flash, leaving in its wake a thick white streak that lingered for just a moment before being swallowed up by blackness, an apt metaphor for a well-lived human life.

Three hours later, waking to see stars still glimmering through the skylight, I felt compelled to go out again for another look. Venus was beaming down from a sky barely brightening in anticipation of a dawn already heralded by roosters, the wind blew chill from the northwest and more meteors slashed across the sky. So after watching for a time I went back inside to check A Darker View, my source for astronomical events, and found that the Geminid meteor shower is under way, and then I went to to double check if that seriously bright star in the southwest was Sirius, and it was.

Meanwhile, the night’s emails — mostly blog comments — were coming up in my inbox, and so I took a look and found one from someone who issued me a challenge for the New Year “to try to find ways to be part of a solution,” and then another comment left on a different post by the same person:

Having just left a "Try Positive" comment, I feel compelled to let you know this video made me smile BIG TIME. 

I actually see you as a positive person, Joan -- I LOVE the morning sky views you share -- but from my perspective you're just not bringing that aloha to the Kauai politics table. Maybe you think it's not worthy of aloha? Maybe it's just been too long of a struggle for you? I don't know. (You seem jaded to me...) 

Anyhoo, I just want Kauai to thrive... and I want you to thrive, too. ~Aloha.

It was followed by a comment from someone who made this observation:

That last one reeks of condescension and--I dunno--Pollyannaish passive-aggressive denial? Perhaps someone upon whom you've trained your cynical, jaded, truth-seeking eye on recently? Anyhoo...I just want truth, and cynicism, and sarcasm, and thrive along with all this Kaua`i aloha. (strains of "All Along the Watchtower" in the background)

Back outside, walking with Koko beneath a blue-black sky, Venus shining determinedly, mountains clear as a bell, cricket song palpable in the bushes, I think about those comments and decide, no, I don’t have the same aloha for Kauai politics that I have for nature, because nature isn’t driven by ego, and it doesn’t play petty, self-serving games. Besides, nature is restorative, whereas politics are draining, and when nature destroys stuff, it’s not due to greed.

And I know that I am basically a happy, positive person who finds joy and beauty all around me, but yes, I also am jaded and cynical because I keep seeing the same battles waged over and over and over again, and yes, it has been a very long struggle and it’s far from over yet. For me, though, there’s no dropping out or turning back because somewhere along the line I took the red pill, and I don’t want to take the blue pill and go all unconscious again.

My opening, nature-oriented paragraphs, which some people hate, are my ode to “try positive,” a reminder of the abundance and beauty and majesty that is always there for us, except most of the time we’re too blinded by self-absorption to see, and I juxtapose it with the petty world of politics to remind people that our systems are deeply, horribly, sickeningly flawed, but because they’re human constructs, they can be changed.

As for the “solutions” that are put forth here and there, I want to buy in, but can’t, because I see them primarily as Band-aids or feel good measures or ways to delay the inevitable. Because when I look at the problems that humans have created and must fix to survive, there’s only one real solution, and that’s a change of consciousness, which comes only from within.

Our walk completed, it’s still too pretty to go in, so we drive over to the beach, past big puddles left by the rain and dogs smiling from the windows of passing cars, down to and past Kealia, where the dead dog along the road has finally been taken away, and in the distance, a rainbow has formed, shooting straight up into the sky.

I trudge through mud that clings to my rubber slippers and turns them into platform soles and leave them at the edge of a beach freshly washed by a high tide now dropping and I swim beneath fine, steady rain as the rainbow approaches, doubles, then recedes, then approaches again, drops its double and arches, connecting land and sea.

That’s when I say my own personal good bye to my friend Gary Blaich, whose life was like the meteor I saw in the night, in that it was noticeably bright and left a trace, and I become aware of another "solution," and that’s if we all, more often than not, just strive to do the very best we can.


Andrew Cooper said...

Thanks for the plug! Currently working on posting all the astro events for 2011.

Dawson said...

"You're too negative."

"You're not contributing to the solution."

"Why don't you try to look more on the positive side."

...Criticisms which, although they may be heartfelt, are the same ad hominem fallacy that has been aimed at social reformers ever since social hierarchies were invented.

The basis of the fallacy is always the same: that something personal about the social reformer (lifestyle, political affiliation, sexual orientation, religious belief, personal appearance, attitude, you name it) is invalid, and by implication invalidating the truth of her critique.

Anonymous said...

Its all about choice. We choose to come here to read this blog for our personal reasons likewise we can choose NOT to if we don't agree with your take on life,nature and politics. Don't understand why some readers want to change who you are and what you stand for. I say to them start your own blog to express whatever it is you think Joan should say and stop complaining. Her personal expression is just that. I happen to agree on her take on local politics and frankly I don't agree that the concept of Aloha fits into the political system that we live in today.

Anonymous said...

Aloha is how Hawaiians lost their land

Anonymous said...

"Aloha is how Hawaiians lost their land" ????? I don't think so. Greed, avarice, thievery, and political bull
$#!t is how their land was lost

irk said...

2:30 and 5:30am? are you sirius? that's a white pill.

Anonymous said...

I like people who are naturally and un-selfconsciously positive, but consciously trying to be positive strikes me as less than honest, as if one is trying to deny or cover up something that's true, or just so. I believe that's the mentality of many a platitude-spouting self-help junkie, who is often depending on whoever the latest self-appointed self-help guru is to tell them what to think and how to behave. And I like Dawson's point, too, about the fallacious (and thus less than honest) nature of this type of criticism.

In my experience, it's often those with a sense of privilege and entitlement who are quick to say "try positive" or "stop being so negative." In my experience, they're often not the ones with someone's foot on their neck.

Anonymous said...

I meant to say "comment" instead of "criticism" in the first paragraph of the previous post.

Anonymous said...

An interesting book I just started reading from our library:
Virus of the Mind by Richard Brodie

We all think people think like we do. We think that people have the same definitions and meanings of the same word as we do.

We are influenced and programmed by ideas and paradigms we are not aware of.

Some have been infected with the "virus" ...."let's be positive" as Rome burns.

Dr. Shibai

Anonymous said...

Read Chomsky. Talking points and media images are especially effective in brainwashing the sheep of the world.

Anonymous said...

Chomsky is what is especially effective in brainwashing the sheep of the world, right about the time they become college freshmen.

Anonymous said...

If only college freshmen were exposed to Chomsky.

Chomsky being "interviewed" by William F. Buckley: