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Monday, 29 April 2013

About Positivity

In the western world, Positivity is the new religion.

The world is now basically divided into Islam, Hinduism, Boeddhism and Positivism.

We humans always need something to believe in; Christianity is on the way out, so something must fill the void, and it seems to be the P-word.

Over the past years I have been told so many times to be positive, that I've become really negative about positivism.

The next time someone will ask me "have you read The Secret?" I will say "yes", pull that book out of my sleeve and use it to hit them on the head. The hard cover version. The gift-box, with the CD attached to it in hard plastic.

Then I will seek refuge in a bar, a really dark jazz-bar, because I desperately need to meet one of those last dinosaurs: someone who will be passionately negative. 

I picture him to be in his 70's. He's got a beard of 5 days and the bags under his eyes have bags. 

Half drunk behind his Johnny Walker, he is flirting with the smoke of his cigar. He must be an intellectual though, say Leonard Cohen or Paolo Conte, so we will have a great night, talking about 3000 years of war. Some Auschwitz in the mix. And Blues in the background.

What a pity I work in marketing, that world where you scan your meta-tags on a daily basis to make sure they are framed positivily. For positivism is popular. Positivism attracts. Everyone wants to hang around with positive people. A positive product sells, a positive event is sold out 5 nights in a row.
Humans fly towards positivism as to the only lightbulb in a pitch black world.

If you want to collect Likes on Facebook, if you want to be popular, invited to everything, loved, make a promotion, have success, earn money... you have to be positive.

Wait... now I am probably motivating you to become more positive. 

That's not the intention. 

No, that's not true, I'm a liar. 

Just as any human, I'm attracted to positive people. They make things happen.
They believe something is possible, and thus make it reality.
Positive people are the engine behind everything. Every party, every event, every club... every festival, product, achievement started with one person who was positive. 
Being so, they are a little lighter in a dark bar. They create the world, and all of us profit from it.
So, yes, bring it on, you positivos!
There will always be plenty of others to bring realism to the mix. Don't let them get you down. 

(And if they do, just join me for a nice night in a dark bar, with jazz music and we'll discuss Sartre and modern day slavery - I see a lot of positive things in negativity).

About Happiness

This morning, my neighbour found his first grey hair.
 
For an hour he dragged himself through the street as though he had turned into a retired Jewish Rabbi.
 
Then he made the decision he was going to be George Clooney and everything was alright again.
 
This is all I have to say about happiness: it's a decision.
 
Happiness is utterly predictable: if you want it, you get it.

It's nothing but redirecting your gaze from the darkness to the light. 

And let's stop there. Thousands of books have been written about this theme and the Internet is saturated with it. On billboards and in magazines pensioners are laughing and throwing autumn leaves in the air, thus happy they are with their pension plan. Happiness is pouring out of the TV and the radio. On Facebook the world seems hysterically happy.

What could I possibly add to that?

You'd wonder: what's so wrong with un-happiness? With sadness? With frustrations, complexes, depressions, feelings of inadequacy, alienation, loneliness?
 
These are humans emotions too. They provide our depth. How is it that we no longer accept them? Do we all have to become billboard figures?

They are there for a reason. If you wish to be a complete human, do not skip them, nor suppress them, nor wish them gone.

You can't impossibly enjoy the views from a summit, if there are no valleys.

My mum used to suddenly realise and declare: "Today I am really unhappy". She would then go up the stairs, lock herself up with a cup of tea, a candle, tissues, the Requiem of Mozart, and cry her eyes out for an afternoon. To come down the stairs shining and happy as a reborn person. "So, that was nice", as though she had really enjoyed it.

She sometimes seemed to regret she was not a pure melancholic, like my father, or eternally depressed, like my brother, or suffering from sleep deprivation, like my uncle.

To her, that was the material of the great writers, of the great composers, of the philosophers and poets. The thinkers, without whom there would not have been any civilisation.

Are you unhappy? Good for you. It is one of the countries you have to travel through to get to happiness, as well a beautiful country in itself, full of contrasts and shades of blue and grey. Unhappiness can make you happy.

However, one day you too might suddenly find yourself on the sunny side of the street. Or simply decide to start walking there.

It's far easier than quitting smoking.




Sunday, 28 April 2013

About Birth

We are born. 

We are born at an astonishing rate. 

Every single day the earth's population increases with 200,000. 

That is one extra Portugal per month. One extra Europe every 5 years. 

It can be imagined what this does to the competitiveness of humans. The evolution of technology is exploding, because we have to. 

Let's not even start about any creature having the bad luck not to be a human. It's only a matter of time before the world will look like one big shiny concrete parking lot. With a MacDonalds on the summit of Mount Everest. 

If we want our children to be happy, we better do not teach them too much about wildlife. For our own species will not stop until the last wild flower in the field has been crushed. 

And still, we never put anyone back where they came from. 

Perhaps because we are all so cute when we arrive. Stalin was cute, and your local serial killer was cute. 

And once a year we all celebrate our own birth. You can imagine that moment: "Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Adolf..."

I don't want to sound like a sour centenarian going: yes, yes, but what is the quality of all those humans being born?

I beg your pardon - I do want to sound like that. 

It's fun to be sour. Nagging, complaining and gossiping - the top 3 of most adequate therapies. 

Complain for an hour, and all sourness has evaporated. Complain for a day though and you will become very good at complaining. Complain a week and it will become your career. 

So not what I intend to do with this blog. 

I want you and me to be happy, and feel that we leave this world as a better place than we have found it. 

About Death

We die. 

We die very much. 

At a rate of 120,000 humans a day, we die. 

That is one 911 per hour. One Tsunami a day. Half a Holocaust per month. 

In that scheme of things, it is surprising we make such a fuss of our own death. 

We could also just close the eyes and think: this happens every day. Today is just my day. I'm in the same boat as 120,000 others right now. Please don't let me make a fool of myself. Let me be an example of dignity. 

My All Time Favourite Death is the one of Diana Reitman. 

That one was so remarkable that I still remember her name - just one of the extras in the movie Schindler's List. A screen presence of not 2 minutes. Just one of the many people shot in a labour camp. 

She attracts too much attention of the officers, they bring her forward and pull their gun - and Diana Reitman says: "It will take more than that". 

She is shot, drops to the ground, and is gone. A death as in a Russian movie. No fuss, no drama. 

I hope that when the time comes, I will be able to be such a wise person. 

Let's see how my last page will be. In the mean time I just want to live the whole story. 

Sitting on branch 45 of life's tree, and looking down at all those 45 summers and winters that brought me up here, I pretend to be allowed to think to presume to imagine that I can tell a bit about life. 

"That thing that happens to you while you are dreaming of something else". 

Greetings from my hilltop village. 

Ben