I’m reading Shannon Burke’s “Black Flies,” a gritty novel based on Burke’s EMT experience in early 90s Harlem. The book reads darker than the screenplay to the “Saw” film, and is breathtakingly bloody. A mother overdoses on heroin while nursing her dead infant. A bullet rips through a young man’s cheeks, leaving two gaping holes. A bold suicide results in the death of two when the 190-pound body lands on a passerby. These stories aren’t pretty but the main character remains hopeful through the text, looking at each incident as a lesson. He turns around the tragedy to learn from it, perhaps to even laugh about it later. The negative, in some light, becomes a positive.
I never had anyone die in front of me (unless you count goldfish). I’ve never been robbed at gunpoint and the few car and bicycle accidents I’ve been in have been minor. I’ve never been severely sick, on the verge of death. I have come close to but I’ve never lived out on the streets. I’m lucky and fortunate. Things aren’t bad. My life isn’t bad. So, why do I treat it as such? It’s because I only focused on the negative things. Perhaps it’s my inner news junkie- my brain and heart are Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams, covering only the day’s turmoil. Sometimes, the negativity is the only thing I can think about. My whole being wraps around the bad thought and won’t let go. Last week, I tried to enjoy a cup of coffee with a good friend. Instead, I wanted to cry the entire time (About what? I don’t remember). When I found out I got the writing gig I’ve had been applying and reapplying for since last July, all I could think about was my overdrawn bank account.
I think it just may come down to this: turning things upside. Maybe getting a little crazy with the extreme negativity and transforming it into an extreme positivity. Force myself to be happy. Force to think cheery, “You Can Fly, Peter Pan!” thoughts. Force myself to smile when things seem hopeless. Cheesy examples: Instead of bitching about not being in Brooklyn, make the most of Reno. Befriend the locals (especially the bartenders and baristas), get involved in the
community; take more freaking walks and learn about the town’s history. Finally get my driver’s license so I can venture up to and explore Lake Tahoe. Loneliness sucks and I want to be in a relationship. Badly. But instead of whining, fill up my time with friends and things that make me a tad more interesting; writing, volunteering, making crafts out of newspaper and leaving them on random bus seats. Enjoy “singledom.” I know that God will put a Nate Ruess look-alike in my path one day so we can have dance parties in my kitchen.
I need to call a draw, stop cashing in on those bad thoughts. They aren’t doing any good and are hindering me from the kind of life I want to live, the kind of life I deserve to live. Chosing to think only good thoughts will be work but it is achievable. I hope that you, dear reader, are experiencing nothing but happiness and are living the kind of life I know that you deserve. Happiness and positivity for all (and pick up Burke’s book. It’s a literary gem).