Thursday, September 18, 2014

Positive Thinking vs. Turning A Blind Eye

Ummmkkay. So I was joking around this week with my current fabulous and handsome man Carnie, who is a Maritime transplant, about how my transition from Winnipeg to Vancouver involved the slow but sure addition of quinoa to my diet, yoga to my schedule and hiking to my weekends. I do like to note hat I've always been a very spiritually aware person, however, as has he, so that component of West Coast culture isn't new for either of us... that being said, we both agree that spiritual practice is preferable when authentic and unsullied by trendiness or false motivations. To be honest that DOES seem a little more rampant over here. Considering that we both run with festival crowds and other hippies fairly constantly, albeit those who wear lipstick and wield ninja swords, we have both encountered our fair share of the latter type of "enlightened" mindset ...or marketing campaign. ;)

Me n' Carnie Bear 
I generally tend to accept that type of thing in the hopes that its part of a larger process towards overall radness and consciousness in society. One thing, tho, that Carnie observed and pointed out really rang true to me... and that is about how more and more, he is noticing a distinctive intolerance for discussing anything perceived to be "negative" or "drama".  Even things that are important, and that need to be addressed. This got me thinking about how much I too had participated in turning on my blinders, and whether I was doing that under the guise of achieving a more "positive" mindset, when really what I was doing was avoiding inconvenience. Hrrrrrrmmmm.

To be fair, I do understand why some people shut off and put up boundaries here and there when their feelings become debilitating and therefore impede any action towards making things better. Some are super sensitive and require certain preparations to receive information like that.  I also understand why people choose to avoid hearing about things they feel disempowered around, like say bigger global issues, because it will only "upset them" with little to no result. My take on it is that there is always SOMETHING that can be done, even if its small, even if its just in our own backyard... and that if you are sensitive, you can always draw a boundary that involves revisiting the issue when you are better equipped to do so. I do understand those frames of mind. What I worry about is when people just straight-up don't want to acknowledge negativity because its inconvenient or unpleasant to them and it interrupts their day... because that to me is very dangerous.

I really think there is an important difference between the very awesome practice of maintaining a positive outlook on life, and the un-awesome practice of people becoming deliberately ignorant of very real negative issues happening that need attention in order to be resolved. (That last one I'm not into, by the way, in case you haven't guessed.) I feel like there are everyday systems in our current world breeding that last tendency, and I wanna take a sec to take a look at that, because negativity in that context, in my opinion, can be a super important catalyst for change. Straight up, its like a red flag that something is wrong. And while I do believe that people can be indulgent and defeatist in their negative attitudes about what can be done, which is never any fun, I do believe that there is an inherent value in remembering that just because something has negativity attached to it doesn't mean it should be ignored.

This meme, which despite using very aggressive and irritatingly generalizing language, still manages somewhat to sum up the mis-conception I'm talking about here. To me, this sort of outlines the confusion between "negative thoughts" and the negative emotions or reactions that come from our experience of reality.

Now. Let me say right out of the gate that I am a proponent of many belief systems that could be considered "New Age".. but I strongly dislike that term and its uselessness as far as giving merit or specificity to the intent behind adopting such beliefs. I much prefer the term "conscious", because it does not infer ignoring anything, negative or not, yet for me still includes the concept of awareness around some of the more metaphysical laws of the universe.

Next. For me there are two levels of acknowledging and dealing with negativity... 1) honest assessment and emotional reaction to negative situations, and 2) choosing to be either positive or negative about what comes next. In regards to the first, which is what I perceive to be getting locked out: how the fuck are you going to know what needs to be changed or acted upon if you never let anything unpleasant or inconvenient penetrate your mind-frame?  In my opinion, fully acknowledging the emotions that arise in the face of tragic or upsetting reality is the key to change. And yes, the proper assessment of any issue, and one's position on it, involves fully delving in and admitting to feeling angry or shitty about it. I certainly have witnessed the power that emotions can have over duty or logic in the drive to act. How are you going to be motivated to make those changes, or help to make them, unless you allow yourself to have an unpleasant emotional reaction around that? I like to think that most of the people I know actually want to improve some of the shittiness in the world, including the mind-frames and broken hearts of friends who are experiencing tragedy and loss.

Here's where I think the lines get blurry... once those situations are processed and assessed as to how they truly make you feel -- negativity be damned --  its what you do with that information next that I think can be directed in either in an empowered / positive way, or in a defeatist / negative way. THAT is where the choice to be negative or positive comes in, and THAT I think is what many "New Agers" talk about when they talk about "being negative". Please note that THAT is much different than avoiding all negative situations. And yet the confusion persists... and I want to examine why.

There's a lot of people who subscribe to the idea that constantly having negativity in their digital window is going to turn people off or make them more "unpopular" with their "friends". Honestly, I think that's a pretty fair assessment. But I think that has less to do though with people not caring and more to do with the way Facebook is set up. I realize that Facebook can be used as a (less and less) effective tool to get important messages out or share our work and thoughts, but for the most part, people use it as entertainment, or to keep up on light "surface" type aspects of their friends' lives. So they aren't always in a mind-frame to receive information about how their friends are sick, or heartbroken because their mom died, or, say, how Stephen Harper is ruining our country, when it pops up amidst pictures of sister's vacation or singing cats. You weren't mentally prepared for that. Its inconvenient and unpleasant and it sticks out. And you know that other people are probably feeling that too, so you don't whine or say anything "negative" or "dramatic" on your wall. Everyone suddenly becomes their own censor of anything but "everything is awesome" - ummm, cough cough quote from recent KIDS movie about evil dictatorship -- and this is ESPECIALLY true if you want to keep showing up in people's feeds... because now, people can simply "unfollow" you. And in fact, they are encouraged too. Slowly but surely, all traces of "negativity" are disappearing in our online interactions - and I believe our tolerance for the pains of in real life, our empathy, and our willingness to confront issues is being trained to lessen as well. Add the constant bombardment of a capitalist culture constantly attempting to dictate our desires around luxury, pleasure and convenience...  well fuck. "Don't worry about the negativity of this global issue... just let us deal with it!! Go on, enjoy your champagne and cat memes and take a selfie." Rrrrright. Hmm.

meanwhile, while everyone's "avoiding negativity"....
I do think that Facebook CAN be used as a tool for organizing people, discussions and spreading information (although as I mentioned earlier that seems to be more and more difficult). I don't think the solution is to start uncensoring ourselves on it or just to stop using it altogether... I'm not sure that will even work at this point. I think the solution is to KEEP CONSCIOUS of the fact that a sugar coated digital funhouse mirror of real life is just that -- slanted. And that "negativity" is a very real part of life, but that doesn't mean you don't have to dwell on it in a non-solution based manner. You don't have to indulge in the futile-ness of it all and suck people into a black hole of yuck. But I think its healthy -- and necessary -- to have a minute to think, hey, this sucks. It really, really sucks. Something needs to change. Then you can move on to the part where you start figuring out what change looks like and how you can be involved.

PS: Stephen Harper is an ASSHOLE, and its time to do something. This China thing? WHAT THE FAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK. Gonna look into it and get back to you on what action is going to look like for me.... Cuz seriously. Time to impeach a bitch.   OVER IT.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward this weekend to mulling that over while I dance raucously to all the freshy-fresh newness in the electronic music world at New Forms Festival. I'm not even gonna pretend I know who any of the artists are, but honestly, that's kinda the point. I do know who Max Ulis, Michael Red & Malcolm Levy are (some of the curators) and my faith in them over the years has just SLIGHTLY resulted in the discovery of some of my favourite music and people on the planet. So ya know. Not the biggest gamble ever exactly. Plus, it's at Science World. How much of a better location can you get? PUHLAAAAAAAAAYSE.

Thank goodness for art. Thank goodness for beautiful men. Thank goodness for cookies.

Thank goodness for amazing cocktail lounges where I can take my clothes off and sing about pie, as I will tonight and every Thursday. Because the way some people used to act towards me for being a super sexual being was kind of negative.  Now its better. :)

kisses n' kinkz