Aaron R. Davis
I’m going to level with you guys: I have nothing to write about this week.
All the bad national news of the last few weeks really culminated into misery this weekend, and I’ve been dwelling on it a little too much. Right now, my opinions about Marvel Comics or Disney movies or snack cakes seem more irrelevant than usual. I feel like kind of a fraud getting into any of that right now.
Part of the mental illness is getting overwhelmed by things I have no control over. Rationally, I know there’s nothing I can do right this second that’s going to stop ocean acidification, but irrationally I feel powerless that I can’t. My life is a cycle of running away from that feeling of not being able to do anything, and giving into it later and ending up a crying mess on the floor. It’s just a wheel of cynicism, isn’t it?
It’s the kind of thing that keeps me sitting here, staring at a blank page for an hour, with nothing really to say. And I tend to follow Wim Wenders’ advice: “If you don’t have anything to say, don’t feel obliged to pretend you do.” How is so much empty noise going to satisfy anyone reading this? And how can I get out all of these overwhelming feelings without typing something up that just seems like an angry, rage-filled manifesto?
So I decided that instead of being angry, I’m going to be optimistic.
This isn’t a manifesto, but it is a summer project. And I have a long history of getting optimistic in the early summer only to burn out by late June and end up a depressed mess by mid-July, so this is going to take willpower.
I can’t change the world. So I’m going to change my behavior.
I’m going to just do something completely unexpected and be nice.
I’m just going to be nice to people. In any interactions I have, I’m going to be nice, kind and polite. I’m going to try and let go of the fear and the assumption that people are going to be rude and hateful, and I’m just going to be nice. Because it feels good. Because it makes other people feel good. And I just want to put something good into the world.
And just smiling more and being polite is something good.
I don’t have the power to enact laws or stop things happening that are bigger than me. But I have to be okay with that and do what little things I can. And if it’s just holding a door for someone or not being a dick if someone gets my order wrong, no matter how frustrated I am, then that’s what I’m going to do.
It really doesn’t seem like it should take much effort, does it? We’ve all gotten that angry email from someone that makes us feel bad about ourselves, right? Why be the person who sends it? What is so wrong with us that we feel like we have the right to make people feel that way? Especially when we know how it feels to have that done to us? Why not just make the relatively easy decision to not be a dick?
Let’s focus a little less on the frustration of what our lives aren’t and be open to what they are. Let’s be where we are and figure out how to improve that. Every day when we wake up, let’s figure out where to manifest love and kindness today, instead of being frustrated about yesterday, worried about tomorrow, and so quick to write off now as a failed beginning to … something.
I don’t know, maybe it’s crazy. Maybe I sound like I’ve just sort of fallen off the deep end. To borrow the words of another filmmaker, Jean-Luc Godard, he who jumps into the abyss owes no explanation to those who stand and watch. But at this point in life, and this point in history, I’m not comfortable with the probability that I’m someone’s bad memory, or the voice that someone will never forget said something mean and cruel to them, or the person they regretted letting into their life. And I’m also not interested in beating myself up over what might be true.
I’m just interested in making this place cheerier.
Have you ever been at such a low point that you wondered if you could even get up another morning? I have. I’ve gone through the motions of a day many times, unsure if there was even a point to it. And then someone, completely unaware of my situation, said something sweet or made a nice gesture or just returned a smile, and that completely turned me around. We don’t know it, but sometimes we save lives just by being friendly.
Wouldn’t you want to be that for someone else?
Have a nice summer.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org