Tuesday, March 16, 2010

never happy

From the unblogpublished works of one Whimsy.

It happened when I was driving home from an errand to the bank and Target. After four days of sweltering meltering sun, the sky had clouded over and the heavens opened to shower down some rain. I was stopped at a red light and was just so irritated that I had to turn on my windshield wipers. I mean, really. How annoying.

This, the first rain we'd had in over a month. This water! Falling from the sky! Just too much! (And also strangely: not enough - we're so dependent on the near-constant fall of rain that missing a few weeks of it really hurts the local water supply.)

My cloudy line of thinking cleared enough for me to examine my state of mind and boy, I was not happy with what I found.

As a little girl I remember watching the movie Pollyanna for the first time. Thereafter followed an intense (and wholly regrettable) love for the time period, the (gasp) fashion, and most importantly Pollyanna's world view. Even as I begged my mother for some pantaloons (all the better to put under the three or four layers of skirts I fit around my waist, to more fully provide that floofy dress look), I tried to model Pollyanna's mindset. Always looking forward. Always stressing the positive. Always looking for the good - in experiences, in memories, in things, in people. Even then I understood that negativity poisons a person, makes them unhappy, makes them ugly, pushes the light out until only darkness remains. As a small girl the simple steps of focusing on the bright side made sense to me.

Adulthood muddies the waters of understanding. We have better nametags for negativity now. We call it being rational or being real. We think of ourselves as grounded pragmatists, a person unfettered with dreams, someone focusing on the big picture. Maybe we are even honest enough to say that we're pessimists that don't want to be disappointed.

But I think it's more than that. I think it's lazy.

Turning lemons into lemonade takes work. There is lemon squeezing and adding sugar and maniacal stirring. I could get all metaphorical on you and explain in painstaking detail that the squeezing of the lemons is us working through a problem, allowing the problem to change us in the best and transformative way. I could remind you that the squeezing can be painful.

I could continue with the metaphor and suggest that adding sugar is what we do when we start to recognize the hidden blessings in a bad situation. It's what we do when we allow our friends to help us. It's what we do when we ask for help and receive it. It's the gift of a rainy day in the middle of a drought.

I could go on to say that the maniacal stirring is more of that pesky work stuff. That we have to keep moving in order to grow. That the problem will only transform into a gift if we are sifting through the wreckage, turning the moment over in our hands.

I could end the metaphor with a reminder of the sweetness of lemonade, the joy experienced when you take those first sips of the summer personified.

I could tell you that I'm not perfect and have to be reminded of these simple things from time to time while I'm sitting at a stoplight outside of Target.

And I could tell you that it's also possible to never be happy - to never be satisfied with a moment or a memory because something will always come along to offer itself as a flaw.

The lemonade with a forlorn seed floating near the top.

Or a sudden summer rainstorm that requires windshield wipers.

But I think you're too smart for that. You know what I'm saying and what I'm getting at: there is too much beauty in all of this chaos to only search for seeds and storms. They're going to come to us anyway. In the meantime, I'm going to keep my eyes open, see what happens next.


Anonymous said...

I, for one, would love to see you in pantaloons.

Amy said...

I second that, Shelly. :)

wandering nana said...

This was lovely.

Erin P said...

And I second wandering nana. Lovely, lovely sentiments, and I appreciate being reminded of that. It makes a difference...you made a difference in my day today. Thanks!

Bethsix said...

I fifth everyone. Pantaloons please!

Heidi said...

You should make them for Bean!! That would spare you having to wear them! Although it would be fun to see you wear them too!

Little Ms Blogger said...

It's hard to be happy all the time and much easier to see the negative.

I keep a gratitude journal and every day I write down 5 things I'm grateful for. Some days it's as simple as diet cola, but the exercise of trying to think of 5 things abolishes some of the pessimism racing through my head.