Whenever I watch the news on TV, read the headlines of various websites, listen to NPR, or scroll through Facebook postings and twitter feeds I’m reminded of that song from THE WIZ, “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News.” The onslaught of negative vibes from every possible medium is absolutely relentless and shows no sign of diminishing. Because the harsh truth is that bad stuff sells. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY Part 52 anyone? CRIMINAL MINDS Season 12? As long as there’s bad news happening to some stranger out there in the world whether real or fictionalized or some combination of the two, it makes most of us feel better about our own lives. It’s time for that to end.
Now, before you call me a hypocrite, please note that I acknowledge that I’m part of the problem and just as responsible for shooting bad energy out into the world as anyone else. Most notably via my twitter account. If you follow me at michael2264, you know that I’ve been criticizing New Jersey Transit and The Young and the Restless at warp speed lately for their contributions to commuter traffic and bad storytelling respectively. However, as of today I am going to do my level best to stop that practice. (I’m also going to try and uncover the origin of the phrase ‘level best’ in a future blog because I have no idea what it really means and it’s what I like to call ‘empty language’ – a colorful, made-up phrase that has no meaning. But, as I often do, I digress.)
Notwithstanding the foregoing (another fab phrase of mine), NJ Transit and Y&R absolutely deserve to be criticized, ridiculed, and held accountable for the unconscionable crimes to the worlds of mass transportation and soap operas, but there has to be a way to do that in a less verbally violent manner. Wouldn’t it be more effective if – to paraphrase a line from JANE EYRE, my favorite book of all time – I tempered judgment with praise? (Another sidebar: If you haven’t read JANE EYRE, buy it now and do not cheat by watching one of the many movies based upon this classic. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.) You see what I did there? I took what could’ve been a negative comment – chastising those of you who’ve been too lazy or preoccupied with more superficial meanderings and haven’t yet read one of the best novels ever written – and turned it around by making it positive – acknowledging that you’ll be thankful to me once you stop being lazy and/or preoccupied with less important things and do something productive by reading said tome. It’s all in the delivery.
And speaking of delivery, I realized this week that I have a lot to be grateful for. To begin with, I should never have been born. My parents wanted two kids, no more, no less, and since all my relatives are made up of families with only two kids – very common during the ‘60s – that isn’t just a comment to set up a story, but a fact. Sadly, my mother’s first child was stillborn, a terrible tragedy that I don’t believe she ever fully recovered from. But from that tragedy came a blessing – at least for me – because it meant that my mother then could have two more children, the last one being me. I don’t know why I thought of this, but it truly did pop into my head last week.
In addition, my birthday is in late November and by today’s strict educational standards I would have to wait until I was five years old to start school. Not so during the loosey goosey year that was 1964 when I was able to start school at the ripe old age of 4½. I was such a baby – literally and figuratively – that my early kindergarten academic record is summed up by Sister Catherine’s comment to my mother, “Michael is an excellent student, IF HE WOULD JUST SHUT UP!” When a nun yells, you know you have issues.
Although I never fully outgrew my ‘immature’ status as one of the youngest kids in my class, I am so grateful that my parents and the Hoboken, New Jersey school system disregarded the fact that I was too young to sit in a classroom for more than five minutes at a time and let me start kindergarten in the Fall of 1969. If not, I would never have met Don and Robert and Corey and Karyn and Carol and Bernice and Henry and the countless other students in my grade who became my lifelong friends. I’m sure I would’ve made other friends if I started school a year later, but, honestly, I know those kids and I much prefer the students who were in my grade thank you very much.
So instead of complaining, moaning, and spewing verbal venom, take a moment to think before you speak, write, or hit that SEND button. Think about what you have to be grateful for and focus on all the good in your life instead of just tossing more negativity into the ether and the universe because, quite frankly, it’s killing us. So from now on I’m going to do my best to put a good energy spin on things. I can’t promise that I’ll truly become a Pollyanna overnight, but I’m going to work hard at spreading good words and thoughts and not evil, pro-negative, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY-esque thoughts into the world.
So hopefully the next time I’m in a traffic jam on Route 3 or ready to throw a hammer at my TV set while watching yet another almost-unwatchable episode of The Young and the Restless, I’ll be able to practice what I’ve e-preached and remember that I’m grateful just to be living and among a wonderful group of friends.
And if I fall off the wagon, you’ll find me listening to THE WIZ to help get me back on track!