The Blog Off gods are asking as this decade ends - a decade of 9/11 and tsunamis and hurricanes and recessions and Justin Bieber – did we gain something worthwhile? Is there something we can look forward to now and a reason to be optimistic for the future? Is there cheer? I'm feeling
So in light of this stunning revelation I just laid on you, if you are feeling cheerful that the worst is over and that you’ll never encounter a tragedy like the ones in this past decade then you are dumb. Shit happens. It’s life. Eat another cookie. If you feel cheerful because ‘even though we’re in a recession and I lost my retirement savings at least we’ve all learned how to be more mindful and value the things that really matter in life’ you are less dumb but kinda deluded. That might be true for some people but it’s presumptuous to think that we as a country/community have shifted our entire mindset to have our priorities straight. We can all hope, but if you’ve stood in line at a Walmart recently I think you’ll agree mindfulness is a luxury.
So do we have a reason to be optimistic? I don't know... DO you have a reason? The blog off question (which is the question the media seems to be asking too) kinda supposes blanket answers like the one in the paragraph above. That times were tough and we’ve all learned our lesson and we’ll be happy now that we’ve seen the error of our ways and the bad people are far far away. I think people somehow EXPECT for there to be blanket cheerful solutions for life’s woes. Although a nice box of wine usually does wonders for all kinds of ills… The issue is not that there isn’t cause for optimism but that people assume their happiness will be handed to them and when they receive tragedy instead they look at it with stunned indignity.
Being happy is a state of mind and a choice. It is not a right. You are not entitled to happiness and you certainly are not more entitled to it because you work harder than the people around you. Happiness is not a reward for being a good person or for overcoming tough obstacles. People operate under the assumption that if you work really hard in your job and do good things and help people that somehow we'll all be rewarded with mansions in the sky and tax breaks and lake houses full of North Face jackets and ipods full of Justin Bieber. But there’s a reason we have the cliché ‘bad things happen to good people.’ Because they do. And to all people. You can’t control what life gives you, only how you react to it.
So I think the right question to ask is: have you made the decision to be happy about your life despite however shitty it might appear at the present moment? That’s easier said than done sometimes – especially if you’re one of those people that doesn’t have a job right now or is standing in line at a Walmart. It’s also a question you can only answer for yourself.
At the ModSauce Ranch, I’m pretty optimistic for the near future because I'm buying myself a really damn expensive kitchen! But it’s not all shiny tiles and buffets of beautiful paint chips – there will be crying and yelling and excess wine and washing dishes in the bathroom sink and probably undiscovered horrors in my subfloor that are just waiting to kill my bank account. Not including the budget I’ll continue to be on after it’s done and the fear of making the right decisions and the remorse of wishing for better ones and omigod why am I doing this again??!!! But in the end I’ll still get a new kitchen and I’ll just share all the horrors with you in hilarious blog posts. I like to be greedy with the rewards but share the shitty parts. I believe that’s called capitalism.
While I realize how fortunate I am to be able to (barely) afford a project like this I’ll still have to make sacrifices for it. I worked hard to save my money and spent loads of time researching and making spreadsheets and phone calls and verbal threats to make it happen. So the kitchen will be built and it will be glorious and I accept all the inevitable drama that will come with it. But expecting that I will somehow be a better cook when it’s finished and turn into Martha Stewart because of it isn’t optimism, it’s delusion. Just like spending your life working hard thinking you will avoid hardships and doing the right thing thinking it will provide you with happiness isn’t being optimistic it’s being delusional. Happiness is not having all of your expectations fulfilled, it is a choice you make with your heart after making intelligent choices with your brain. Ok sometimes those brain choices are optional but it helps...
I’m having another psychic moment because I think I’ll be exceedingly happy pouring cocktails on that shiny new laminate-counters-that-I-wish-were-quartz and eating raw cookie dough standing next to my new cabinets because I spent all my money on a kitchen and still don’t have any furniture to sit on while I eat that cookie dough… I’m optimistic I’ll figure that part out eventually.
Go here to read everyone else's thoughts today... I don't know if they're psychic but I bet they're pretty cool.