Maybe it’s just the rain, but I’m feeling a little introspective. So bear with me, is all I’m saying. You see, I’ve noticed what feels like an upsurge in the tendency to define ourselves in opposition to something. Does that make any sense? My youngest has this in spades; what he wants is the opposite of whatever I’m asking him to do. I completely understand it, because I was like that for so much of my younger life. My tattoos came about because I was against feminine standards of beauty that tended to stress women’s weak, excuse me, delicate natures. For one whole quarter of college (see how old I am? It’s before SEMESTERS for god’s sake!) I wore a pair of red and yellow paisley harem pants, an orange paisley top and a red and blue paisley vest-yes, all together…because apparently, though I was AGAINST the cookie-cutter fashion trends of the day, I was FOR looking like a clown college reject.
We do it in our speech, too- someone asks who a friend supports in an upcoming election and it’s totally normal to reference the incumbent and reply, “Whoever can beat that clown.” Yes, the statement clearly describes certain beliefs we have, but do we really want that to be the way we define ourselves? As against something? That’s well and good, but what are you for?
There is a lot of research that suggests the language we use to describe others or situations becomes attached to us in the minds of the people we interact with. So if you’re constantly, if accurately, complaining about someone’s tardiness subtly in the minds of your friends you become perceived as the one who is habitually late. (I KNOW! Totally not fair.) It’s a fascinating phenomenon when the research focuses on political speech. Specifically, those dirty campaigns when accusations, real or imagined, fly back and forth. The more the object of the rumor tries to deny the allegations (” I did NOT accept money from the all-powerful dog show lobby!”) the more the public comes to believe it. Our brains just kick out the “…NOT…” and before you know it, public opinion starts to favor the competitor. I’m certain that our current President read the same article that I did (who knew he read Good Housekeeping? Or was is Intouch Weekly? I forget.) because he was forever steering the conversation away from whether he was now or had ever been a (insert totally unfounded, probably based in someone’s meth fantasy, accusation here) and back around to the things he really believed in and where he wanted us to go. Genius. I know I couldn’t have done it. I would have been slinging mud as good as I got…which is why I am in charge of making sure the cookie batter is properly chilled and not the fate of the entire free world. Which is most definitely a good thing for all involved.
Political aspirations aside, when you are against something your focus remains forever on the things that drive you nuts! I am currently against the random placement of items in my house. Seriously. The baking cups don’t go with the silverware! The cast iron skillet doesn’t go IN THE OVEN. The cat brush doesn’t belong on the bookshelves and dirty socks don’t belong, well, everywhere they currently are! My head is likely to explode most nights, focused as I am on how much I hate clutter. And though it seems trivial, a slight refocus on what I am for makes a tremendous difference. I am FOR a calm and peaceful home. Clutter is only one obstacle to that goal…a shrill and shrieking mom is another.
I don’t know. Maybe there are those people that are for pettiness and meanness and those things that makes us less than our best selves, but I’m willing to bet that the things we support are the same things that speak to our better natures. I know that I’m a better person when I am working for kindness and consideration than when I am striking out against all the fighting that is going on in this dang house, so it had better stop this instant, do you HEAR ME? Seriously. I like that first lady a whole lot better. So in order to encourage her to stick around more often, here is a list of some of the things I am adamantly and unabashedly FOR:
- My kids, even when it sounds suspiciously like I am not.
- My husband, even when he leaves the compost on the counter. Again.
- my family and friends
- a happy house
- public transportation
- creativity, in all it’s forms
- books and all the places they live
- exploring your spiritual path, whatever that looks like
- pretty, pretty shoes
- learning, always learning
- (would I be a dork, if I said “love?”)
- hard work (I’m for it, I just don’t LIKE it…)
Oh, crud. It just occurred to me. If I choose to see myself as acting from the things that I am for, I should probably extend the courtesy to others. As in, “Though I find much evidence to the contrary, our Governor is probably NOT against school children, the elderly, poor people, sick people, in short all those of us who AREN’T billionaire sports team owners with resources to fund presidential campaigns, but rather for conservative fiscal spending.” …. I should probably also stop referring to him as “That opportunistic rat bastard” since it violates no less than four things on my list.
Sigh. Baby steps, Lanie, baby steps….