When I decided what I was writing about today, I started looking for a clip of Bing Crosby singing “Accentuate the Positive.” Soon, to my complete surprise, I discover Sir Paul singing Paul’s version. If accentuating the positive is good enough for Sir Paul, it’s certainly good enough for me.
This morning I made a conscious decision to focus on the positive, to reframe my negative thoughts and to acknowledge all the good things within and without. It hasn’t been completely smooth sailing. Hearing that the book of Revelation when speaking of the beast was speaking of the papacy and that any rational human would believe this to be the truth was a bit of a challenge to my cheery, open-minded self, yet all-in-all, I’m actually doing a pretty good job.
Just now, I had to break to wait for my son’s school bus. I turned on the TV. There is Dr. Phil with the requisite troubled family broken by conflict. The bus comes. I consider watching Dr. Phil sort out the collective heartache but soon dismiss the thought, turn off the TV and return to writing about the positive. I know a lot about heartache, conflict, depravation, white-hot need. I’m just beginning to allow myself to really explore the other end of the spectrum. I have my quest, my Holy Grail. I’m determined and committed. Life is good.
When a friend challenged the fact that I am looking forward to summer, a summer without a secure income, I really had to think. Do I have reason for concern? Indeed. Objectively, looking forward to not having definite work for a few months would seem ill advised, at least for an adult with adult responsibilities. The child in me insists on enjoying the time. I’ll continue to work my own business and keep my eyes open for opportunities. Looking for opportunity excites me and leaves me feeling hopeful. I’ll trade despair for hope any day.
Trading despair for hope often takes work. . . hard work. Thoughts wear pathways in our brains just as if we spent hours wearing our carpets thin with our pacing, our brains get used to thoughts that are familiar. It’s so easy to walk that same path, think those same thoughts.
The other day, after choosing to read something inspirational versus a true crime book full of corruption, sex and intrigue, I came across Albert Einstein sitting there amongst the words.
He reminded me that “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.”
Then I stumbled into Helen Keller who said, “Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door.”
Concentration camp survivor, Victor Frankl took my hands into his own and looking into my eyes said with great solemnity, “There is no meaning to life except the meaning a man [sic] gives to his life by the unfolding of his powers.”
Then William Faulkner told me to “kill the little darlings.”
(Ok, so this last quote needs a bit of explanation. The author of the book I was reading used to be an editor who was told that writers needed to “kill the little darlings.” M.C. Ryan explains in Adaptability that sometimes we have to be willing to let go of our own ideas and our attachment to them in order for inspiration to really enter into our work. It’s sometimes the only way to make room for something better.)
So, just for today, I inflate a big black balloon with all the garbage, all the what ifs, and all the fear and sadness and let it fly into the stratosphere. As I plan the demise of “my little darlings,” I remind myself of what Booker T. said to me under a hot Alabama summer sun just before I pulled my head out of this inspiring book:
Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. — Booker T. Washington
With good uplifting company such as this, the work of accentuating the positive has gotten a little easier.