American Style

I’d say what makes America, America, is reckless radical optimism.

How are we gonna get there?
F*ck it, we’re already out the door!

First there’s the Pilgrims:
John: Hey, you know what’d be better than all these old fogies tellin’ us what to do?
William: Um, moving to an untamed wilderness and starting our own God-based society?
John: YES!! We’re totally on the same page bro!
Henry: But how are you guys gonna survive? You’re like a businessman or whatever!
John: Huh? I can’t hear you bro, I’m already on a boat halfway to America….

Then there’s the Founding Fathers:
Samuel: You know what’d be better than all these royal asshats tellin’ us what to do?
John: Startin’ a war and implementing our own government??
Samuel: You read my mind cousin!
James: How the heck is that gonna work!?
John: LOL! We’re just gonna wing it brah!
Samuel: Too late to worry now! Shots fired!!

And how about those plantation owners:
Rhett: How are we gonna get all this work done Bo?
Bo: Well, we could just kidnap folks from a remote location and force them to labor without wages.
Rhett: Won’t they object?
Bo: Nah, why would they, prolly love us for providing jobs!!
Rhett: What about the long-term ramifications?
Bo: Can’t hear ya! Already halfway to Africa!!

And there’s the Civil War guys too:
Henry: What if we free them by sending hundreds of thousands of armed men down there?
David: Um, won’t they fire back?
Henry: Are you nuts! What could go wrong!
David: Um, hundreds of thousands of people could die in the process…?
Henry: Preposterous!
David: And what about the aftermath? Maybe if we looked at England’s method of….
Henry: Huh!? I can’t hear you over the cannon I keep firing!!!

And of course there’s foreign policy:
Allen: You know what might help the ongoing strife in that non-english-speaking country…
Dick: Sendin’ weapons and troops…?
Allen: You know it bro!
Dick: Well at least it can’t hurt!

And what about space travel:
Tim: I’m thinkin’ we strap y’all to a rocket and fire it up toward the moon… whaddya say?
John: Haha, yeah whatever.
Neil: I’ll do it!!

And electing the president:
Adam: Who should we elect as president?
Bruce: Maybe we nominate the best and brightest and follow that up with a rigorous selection process?
Adam: Nah, go with the guy that electrifies the crowd!
Bruce: Yeah that’ll work too!!

This is no criticism by the way, simply a characterization. If you’re wantin’ to pump the brakes, then you might not be much of an American. If you’re ever faced with the question, “Should I do this?” — stomp the accelerator — the answer is always “Yes”! If you’re thinkin’ ’bout potential negative consequences then you’re doin’ it wrong! Things are gonna turn out awesome, always!!

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Quest Love

Many of us are so pessimistic that we don’t bother pursuing anything — why waste our time? It won’t work out. What optimistic belief systems provide, is the permission to actively want things. You mean if I simply wish for something, there’s a glimmer of hope I might somehow attain it? Hm, perhaps life isn’t so futile after all….

A pessimistic attitude will literally keep us from wanting anything of significance due to a fear of disappointment — why fill myself up with false-hope for something I’ll never receive. Under the guise of protecting ourself, we deny ourself the best of what life has to offer — it’s a tragic way to live. Whereas an optimistic attitude allows us to step on the path and begin a quest.

When you start playing a game for instance, you’ve attained nothing so far, yet there’s a chance you’ll attain your in-game goals — you’re hopeful. It’s this glimmer of hope and the act of getting there, that you find so enjoyable. Actual attainment isn’t providing the enjoyment, it’s the quest prior to attainment that’s entertaining you.

This is why the end of games can be somewhat sad in the sense that it’s all over — you’ve attained the prize but now what? In actuality it never mattered whether you obtained the thing you wanted. What you were delighting in, was the anticipation, not the attainment.

So who cares if optimism-inducing belief systems actually get you the stuff you want, what they really provide is the philosophical framework that allows you to pursue a quest. It smashes the inertia of pessimism that would otherwise have you doing nothing at all, constantly drowning in futility.

Weaponized Positivity

Weaponized positivity is the use of unabashed optimism and cheerfulness to piss off others. I recently mentioned my dislike of Pollyanna-style positivity. But having just watched the 2003 Pollyanna movie, my mind has been changed. I am at my core a curmudgeonly rebellious naysaying pessimist, so the idea of weaponized positivity excites me. What better way to utterly destroy someone’s attempt to defeat you but by enjoying yourself despite their greatest efforts? Oh the abject horror and helplessness they’ll feel as you only smile at their futile straining.

And for those so disturbed by the ugliness of life, what greater FU can one give but to find enjoyment despite the despair that surrounds? Things not going your way? Enjoy it anyway! F*CK YOU LIFE! Oh the power we can wield by simply enjoying our circumstances. If we do not bend in our quest to select something to savor in each situation, then we win. Think of the Whos in Whoville as the Grinch tried to steal their Christmas celebration — they persisted nonetheless, utterly frustrating and defeating him with their own joy until he had no choice but to succumb.

This is the revolution to join: the fight for hope and happiness. But the enemy does not reside outside ourselves, oh no. It is an ever present foe that seeps into our thoughts. Yet with vigilance we can overcome, destroying our dour attitude whenever it rears, striving to trust that goodness underlies everything, and always finding an aspect in every occasion that elicits delight.

Funny Thing

I went to get my license renewed the other day. Not long ago they moved the office to a location closer to where I live — which was a pleasant surprise. I walked into a large waiting room that was completely empty. I pulled a number and was immediately called. The number happened to correspond to my current age. I probably spent less than ten minutes there. Afterwards I got some pizza and ate in a nice park on a pleasant day.

When I received the notice about my renewal, I was displeased about going through the license renewal process. What a bother I thought. I put it off for a bit and finally, begrudgingly, went. Later that day I got a massive headache though, so I suppose I was able to work some negativity into the day.

Even though I neutralized the unpleasant images surrounding the license renewal, I couldn’t perceive any positivity and was still bothered about the process. Neutral is not inspiring. Yet in actuality, it turned out to be a decent time. I suppose what this means is that I should practice the art of positivity more often.

Though to be honest, Pollyanna style positivity doesn’t particularly excite me, maybe that’s why my mind defaults to negativity, as that rarely fails to incite emotion. I like humor though. Instead of positivity, maybe I should find a way to fashion my thoughts into something funny. Perhaps comedy is a valid substitute for optimism.

In Harry Potter lore, they use the Riddikulus spell against boggarts, it changes the creature’s frightening appearance to something laughable. Overall I think humor works best at diffusing tense situations. Instead of framing outcomes as pure positivity, perhaps I should frame them as funny. Hm, now I just have to figure out how to be humorous….

Overcast Thoughts

I often think about humanity and its many problems. I devise proximate solutions, but realize their futility, because at the root of these perceived problems lies life itself. And if life itself issues forth a steady stream of turbulence, who am I to judge? Therefore, it must be my problem for having such a condemning outlook.

I’ve observed and interacted with cheerful people, those that intuitively look on the brighter side of life. I used to see these people as innocents whose ignorance made them happy — they were oblivious to life’s flaws. They would tell me that life wasn’t so bad, that I should smile, and that I must think happy thoughts. It sounded like nonsensical ramblings of the clueless — but I was the naive one, lost in my dour attitude.

Of course, I did not choose to have a dour attitude, it just happened. But after many years, I finally became aware of it. Oops. And the pessimistic inclination hasn’t gone away, I often have the worst of thoughts and the most negative of expectations. What’s changed is my reaction to these thoughts — I ignore them — and when necessary, I dissect and dismantle them.

I’ve found that I can’t trust my perspective of life. I tend to take life too seriously, too personally. So in my mind I actively broaden my perspective, seeking to interpret life from a lighthearted, more accepting viewpoint. My negativity was not protecting me, it was imprisoning me. So in whichever direction life sends me, I must accept with a spirit of appreciation as a willing participant.

It seems odd of course, to always translate life from negative to positive, but it’s really not that much of an effort and becomes routine after a while — it’s certainly better than constant negativity. And I do wonder why I should have to see life as bleak and broken — but then I think: what a worthwhile path to be on, the path to enlightenment. (And as if on cue, the sun just broke through the clouds, shining its light upon me, making the screen difficult to read — Ha!)