Do I Embrace The Negative?

I told my friend Janis I had written what I considered a funny post called, “Retirement from Sex,” and she quickly replied, “Who’d wanna read that!”  I told my friend Marty at work about the movie Young @ Heart, a charming story about old people, and she quickly replied, “Who’d wanna see that!”  I love talking about global warming and the growing prices of gasoline, but I think I’m bumming my friends out.  My wife often tells me that I make her feel guilty.  Although I see dwelling on the negative as a way to pursue the positive, I’m starting to think I’m going to get nominated for Mr. Negative Man of the Year.

For example, when I hear the price of oil has hit a new record high, I know that it means economic devastation.  I know high oil prices are putting people in shipping and related industries out of business, that it causing food prices to skyrocket, and overall it covers the economy with a black cloud that depresses the whole population.  But I, in my weird Pollyannaish way, think, “great, this will force our society to invent new energy systems, create a green economy, and finally get us out of our dependency on buying oil from countries that want to blow us up.”   My friends see $5 a gallon gas at the pump and picture what it does to their budget.  I picture inventors all over the world getting busy and inventing new technology.  But I’m starting to realize that my friends are looking at me like I’m crazy.

While watching Young @ Heart I saw a crowd of Sisyphuses thumbing their noses at the Fates while rolling their rocks up the hill.  I figure Marty thinks about the horrors of time on the bodies of women and feels anything about getting old would be depressing.  I saw a movie that said, sure you will be old, wrinkled, hurting, diseased, dying but if you have the will you can rock on and give the grim reaper the bird when he comes to collect.

When I hear about global warming I think, “Wow, humans are powerful enough to change the whole global ecosystem, then we need to be smart enough to take responsibility for our actions.”  Sure, its a test of humanity.  We can fail, and civilization will go down the tubes, or we can transform ourselves and society and make a better world.

When I attack a book by my favorite author, like The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, it’s not because I want trash a great writer, it’s because I want to let people know that there are other Heinlein books that are much better.  There are Heinlein books that I reread every other year, and have been doing so for over forty years.  I’m trying to compare the two and see which qualities of writing make a book stand out as a classic.

I think I really freaked out my wife when I told her I wanted to give up cable TV.  Susan worships at the alter of the video icon.  And it wasn’t as if I was planning to forsake TV altogether.  I was merely wanting to cut back so I’d have more time for other hobbies, like writing science fiction.  I pointed out to her that we pay $120 a month and 95% of the time we watch ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS, shows that come to our high definition TV for free, and the other shows are easy to get with our 5 concurrent disc-out-at-a-time NetFlix subscription.

Of course, what are my alternative choices?  I could be depressed because gasoline prices are skyrocketing and pine away for $2 a gallon gas.  I could avoid any movies or social situations with old people, and pretend I won’t be ancient someday.  I could continue living like I’ve always have, and figure the problem of global warming belongs to the next generation.  I could play nice and say positive things about all books I read, as if all books were worthy of reading, each one a child you must love equally.  And I could give up any ambitions I have to be different and just accept I’ll be a couch potato addicted to TV shows the rest of my life.

I do think I see a pattern here.  I don’t think people like change.  They want to drive gas-guzzling cars until kingdom come.  They want to pretend all the conspicuous consumption they love so much doesn’t have any affect on others.  And most of all they want to feel forever young.  Well, my fantasy is to stop watching so much TV, give up reading crappy books, and learn to play the guitar so I can join a rock n’ roll band when I’m eighty-five. By then I also expect global warming will be turned around and we’ll all be using home-grown renewable energy, and the air will be clean, clear and cool.  I might be wrinkled.  My dick probably won’t work beyond peeing, and maybe not pee so well either, and I might need to truck around in a wheel chair, but I hope to play music like it’s 1965.

Jim

9 thoughts on “Do I Embrace The Negative?”

  1. I like your attitude. I too hope to retire into a life of activity, writing sf, reading, playing guitar, learning to draw, maybe even learning a new language, but I’ll be damned if my body parts will stop functioning, haha.

  2. I’m always amazed at the ostrich attitude people have about global warming and the damage we do to the environment every day. It’s like if they don’t think about it it won’t happen.

    I transferred to a school closer to where I live so I didn’t have to drive so much. It’s very convenient, yes, but more than that, it’s cutting down on my own gas emissions.

    I’ve researched everything I need to do to remove my carbon footprint with this house but it’ll cost six months income to do it. I can do a few small things like install a water tank, a grey water system and a downpipe diverter to water the gardens (they’re mostly self-sufficient anyway) but the big one – solar power – is out of the question just yet.

    I like that you don’t have that ostrich attitude. You acknowledge the reality of things and then work out how you can make your part of the world better within that. It’s not negative, it’s a realistic positivism. Much better than an ignorant pollyanna approach or sticking your head in the sand and pretending there isn’t a problem at all.

  3. Hey James:

    Great post. I think that there are thousands of entrepreneurs out there right now making it happen. When I started my new company – first property at http://www.greencollareconomy.com – I was concerned that the lack of political progress (I’m being nice here) would translate to a lack of traction on the economic front. I have to say that, once again, the American entrepreneur is kicking ass and generating a lot of momentum. We have over 2700 green companies listed on our business-to-business directory on the site, and we could add another hundred a day, no problem.

    Keep challenging people, keep talking about how green will move us forward, and maybe we will build the Green Collar Economy that will keep America in electricity until we are 85…otherwise we’ll have to use Acoustic guitars for the rock band.

    Kevin Gulley
    Green Collar Media, LLC

  4. People hate change…hate it!!! Even if the change would so obviously benefit them. And I am only pointing fingers at myself here! 🙂

    I think your way of viewing the negative is THE WAY to do it. We cannot hide our heads in the sand nor is it productive to just bitch and moan about how bad it is. I think we do need to look at it in a positive light and look at the bad things as a catalyst for change whether it is at the personal level or the societal level or the global level.

    I also think balance has to be there. I think it is important for one’s sanity to look solely at the good things once in awhile and enjoy what we have that is good.

    I love the idea of the old folks in Young@heart thumbing their noses at convention. It is a film I really want to see and will no doubt enjoy it thoroughly.

    I think we all want change, but ignoring the bad or, conversely, making it our sole focus will not get us anywhere.

  5. Yeah, gotta love those spelling and grammar mistakes that say weird things. I fixed it, so other people won’t be confused by the global worming. Makes me think of the movie, The World According to Garp, where the little kid thinks he’s hearing saying beware of the “under toad” when people tell him to watch out for the undertow at the beach. Or how some people hear Jimi Hendrix sing, “excuse me while I kiss this guy” instead of “excuse me while I kiss the sky.

  6. Life is change. Adapting to change is good, but I think most people want stability.

    However, I think we feel the changes more while growing up and getting old. At least that’s how it feels to me. Growing up, life is full of changes as you discover the world. Then as you mature you settle down in a routine. Then when you get old, people start dying, your health is constantly changing, and things get unstable again.

  7. I certainly think we all crave…and need…stability, but I believe we can and should be active participants in life, using that foundation of stability, whatever that may be for us personally, to launch out and embrace change, to create change, and to see change through to its ends.

    And I miss the global worming, I think you should put it back. 😉

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