From the Clutches of Positivity


There’s the way it is and there’s the way it CAN be. < That one. Do that one.

Many. That’s the number of people I’ve met or actually know who are devoted to the Positivity and Only Positivity Program. For the longest time, I thought: well, good for you!

I knew almost immediately that it wasn’t going to work for me. The rules were way too strict and I spent most of my time wondering if – no. expecting – I was accruing penalties for any little thought that qualified as ‘negative.’ Or losing valuable points. I didn’t want to lose my points.

For anyone finding a new perspective or changing habits built in childhood, the ‘Only Positivity’ route seemed a good thing.

But that’s changed and now I’m thinking something else. Now I’m thinking that all that positivity isn’t so much about embracing the positive, but avoiding the negative. And not just avoiding, but refusing to even entertain the negative.


Sometimes she thinks about how to fix the world. Sometimes she thinks about waffles. That’s the way it is.

In the last few weeks, a neighbor told me, “Oh, I just bury my head in the sand.’ He’s lovely, this ostrich man. Another friend, a lamb, shooed away a question about current events ith wiggly fingers. “I don’t talk about politics.’ At all? ‘No. No politics. I can’t have any arguments.’

The other day, a woman fake shuddered. ‘No negativity. I don’t have anything to do with negativity.’

They are just a sampling of people who are undoubtedly thoughtful and kind and just trying to create a world they’re comfortable in.

But I realize it’s not fun and, often, not terribly interesting being in a conversation or … well, experience with some of them. I don’t want them to backslide into the dark side. Noooo! Being positive is a great attitude. I, myself, don’t do well at cynicism. But this Positivity thing (the thing that gets a capital letter) has limits. Its followers describe the content allowed and provide little sense of freedom and play. Discernment? No, because discernment implies some measuring and measuring is negative. Dispute? No. Contradiction? No.

I was recently at a little party where the subject of favorite numbers came up. A woman who really, really likes and studies the mystical (I know, because it was her principle topic of discussion) smiled with great patience when another said that since she was a child, the number three had spoken to her. Our mystical know it all, chuckled. ‘You know,’ she said, ‘that’s strictly an American invention.’

My brain did a double take. What? The lover of three, though, ‘Really?’  which earned her a little sniff.

‘Yah. Completely American. Think of it!’ (Can’t speak for anyone else, but I was! Thinking of it. And also a little ‘what the hell?’ I was thinking of that, too.) ‘THINK of it. The Trinity? Father, Son, the et cetera, et cetera?’

See, now in MY world, we could have fixed that with a big burst of laughter and a little teasing. No harm, no foul. Sometimes weird shit and accidental misinformation tumble out of any of our mouths. Okay. Maybe just mine. But it’s a great occasion for playing.

NOT in this world. I don’t know why. I don’t want to know why. I don’t want to have those kinds of restrictions put on me.

If you do, please send me a postcard, but I’m not having a non-playful, narrow conversation with you. You’ll be happy because I’d just be negative.


4 thoughts on “From the Clutches of Positivity

  1. oh I’m with you, friend. I like bursts of laughter at ridiculous commentary much more than sand in my ears and nose and… do ostriches have noses? Don’t tell them if they don’t!

    • You’d think that positivity stuff would include laughing. Hm. They need a rules re-write. It’s SO not fun not having fun. (And YOU, of all people … you could be a poster child for How Positivity Can Work.) (I remain stubbornly ignorant of animal thingamathings, because then I’d have to render them a little more accurately. But. I recall ostriches having big holes and big holes seem to require noses. I could be extremely wrong about that, though. :))

  2. Are you the author of all the phrases/captions on your art? They are all just so brilliant that my brain cannot process one person being able to come up with all of them. I would like to come up with just one of them in my lifetime. I feel, and this is squishy, that everything you create makes ME better. Ugh, there I go being all positive. See what you made me do???!

    • I AM that author, JP. More a scribbler-of. No, not true. Condenser of. That’s what I am. So, I’m truly happy you like them, but I also know you are lavishly equipped to do this. For me, it only takes this: telling a truth that opens a little sliver of light in the ‘way it’s usually done.’ I don’t know why we trust the ‘bigger culture’ to tell us how to live well. That bigger culture just messes with us. (Well, me, it does. And based on how people react to my stuff where I can SEE it, I think a few people are with me on that. :))

      And I LAUGH at the idea of me making you positive. You’re doing a BATHROOM remodel. It’s all relative. (Besides, you really are a dear in the being positive department.)

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