Positive Cynicism – For my newborn niece

Aaron Davis

Aaron R. Davis

You were born on Friday. According to the lore, you’ll be loving and giving. But I was born on a Saturday, which means I should be a hard worker, and wow, is that ever not the case.

Look, I’ve never been an uncle before. You make me feel awkward … I feel simultaneously older and less mature than ever before. My little sister having a baby. It’s weird.

But I don’t want to get all weepy about how overwhelmed I am by this life-changing development. After all, I don’t even know how much I’ll ever see you. I’m agoraphobic and you live in Australia. But for now, I want to share some things that I wish I had known way back when I was growing up. You won’t understand this now, but some day you will.

Remember that it’s not society’s duty to make your day better, but that it also isn’t purposely setting out to make your day worse.

It’s not selfish to take care of yourself before anyone else. The one and only thing that will ever truly belong to you is you. Take care of you first. You can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t.

Tolerance is nice, but acceptance is better. Don’t try to control the people who are important to you. Being a real friend means loving someone and not judging them for making decisions that you probably wouldn’t have made.

Really, just don’t judge other people. They tend to do strange, destructive things when they feel judged instead of accepted.

Life is too short to spend with those who are unwilling to accept you for who you are. Don’t let people force you to change to please them. Strong people don’t put others down; they lift them up. Be a strong person.

Don’t judge yourself for your feelings. It’s not weak to be afraid. It’s not weak to cry. It’s not weak to know when you need help and to ask for it. Remember that there’s nothing in the dark that wasn’t there when the lights were on. Things are as good or as bad as they seem. There’s no need to add anything extra.

It’s okay to not be fine. You’re under no obligation to make everyone else happy all the time. Allow yourself to take what is offered to you in love, but don’t give out more than you have. Accept the support of others, but remember that no one will ever believe in you for you. Believe in yourself. You can never fool yourself, because you’re the only one who knows the truth.

Take it easy on yourself; you deserve your love, your respect, your encouragement and your patience. Don’t give up on things just because you’re not good at them right away. You won’t measure up to your own ideals all the time, but one failure doesn’t mean you’ll always fail. Getting knocked down doesn’t mean you’ve failed; staying knocked down does.

Dwelling on your mistakes won’t erase them. All sadness is temporary. Bad things happen. But you don’t have to be a victim if you don’t want to be. Don’t let other people define your setbacks. Remember that your character isn’t defined by your troubles, but by how you bear them. You will always be more than the sum of your injuries.

Accept life as it is rather than lamenting what is isn’t. Accept yourself for who you are. If you don’t accept yourself honestly, you won’t ever change, because all of your mental energy will be bound up in running away from the parts of yourself you don’t like.

Growing up and learning are lifetime processes, not phases. You’re never done learning and you’ll never know everything. Be curious and open your whole life. Remember that fulfillment doesn’t come from getting more, but from knowing when you have enough.

Don’t hold on too tightly to anything. Nothing is permanent. All moments pass. Make peace with it and instead of looking too far forward or back, you can find happiness and beauty just looking around.

Always leave loved ones with loving words, because you may never see them again. And remember that when your parents tell you to remember to take an umbrella or ask you if you have your keys or remind you to drive safely, what they really mean is, “I love you.”

More than anything, HAVE FUN. Don’t take life too seriously. Don’t worry too hard about getting it “right.” You’re not going to survive it, anyway, and in 300 years, who’s going to care? Enjoy yourself as often as you can; you don’t need an invitation to your own life. Do what you love. If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.

Be kind and good. Don’t yell at children; they won’t remember your words, only your rage. Be encouraging and patient. Read a good book now and then. Get enough exercise. Find joy in being. Remember that sometimes who you experience life with can be more important than what you’re doing. Learn everything you can. Don’t put off what you want to do. Don’t hide from your responsibilities. Plant a tree. Own a pet. Ride a horse. See Disneyland. Fall in love. Be here now.

And like Jim Henson said, try to leave the world a little better than it was when you got here.

Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at samuraifrog@yahoo.com.

Comments (1)
  1. Amy Bolos December 29, 2013

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