Finding meaning

Always look on the bright side of life’ is a philosophy to which I aspire. Many think I have achieved it but they don’t know how hard I struggle. I do try to find the good in people and situations, but it’s not always my first and instinctive reaction. When I realise I’ve reacted negatively I try to change or hide my negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. But it’s not always easy to convince myself, regardless of whether I convince anyone else or not.

It reminds me of a quote on a laundry bag which has stayed with me in eight different homes in three different states and for well more than thirty years. After all this support I have finally thought to seek out the source of the wisdom and found it to be UK poet and playwright Christopher Fry.

bag

I feel the quote represents me quite well; doing what I can to hold it all together and keeping those negative instincts in check by ‘nipping them in the bud’, all the while fearful of one day just losing it and letting it all out in one mighty swoosh. I guess the expectation of fewer years remaining in which I will need to keep myself contained makes me a little optimistic. (Always look on the bright side!)

I like to think I’m more of a hopeful realist than either a Pollyanna or a negative realistic. A discussion about optimism and pessimism followed a previous post in which I asked How much of a meliorist are you?  But meliorism is more a belief that the world can be improved by the actions of humans than an optimistic or pessimistic expectation of the outcome.

I believe that humans have an amazing potential for improving our world (i.e. every aspect of it). That makes me a meliorist. Recognising what is happening in the world now makes me a realist. A belief that human actions will make improvements in the future makes me an optimist, but not one without some pessimistic fears. While stories of terrorism, climate change and violence fuel the fears, stories like this TED talk by Tasso Azevedo show that improvements can be, and are being, made.

I am an education meliorist. I believe that education is a powerful agent for change and has an enormous potential for improving lives. My optimism that education will impact positively upon individual lives as well as the collective human situation outweighs my pessimism about the outcomes I see in current systemic trends and leads me to seek out educators, like Ken Robinson, Chris Lehmann , Michael Rosen, Barbara Arrowsmith-Young and Rita Pierson who share my vision of what could be.

A quest to improve my own life and the lives of others through education has been a long time passion. Ensuring that my own children experienced the benefits of learnacy, though I hadn’t heard of the term at the time, as well as literacy and numeracy was of great importance to me. I encouraged them to question, to create, to think critically, to read, to learn, to wonder . . .  There is so much we teach our children the list goes on. It is very rewarding for me to see that they have a love of learning and are passing that same love on to the next generation.

Having, sharing and fostering a lifelong love of learning perhaps in some ways contributes to giving meaning to my life. But it also leads me to question life and its purpose in ways that many others don’t.  This questioning can lead to a sense of unease, of lacking fulfilment, of needing to do and achieve more. I know others who better accept the way things are, accept each day as it comes, and are content in their existence. Sometimes I envy their complacency.  Other times I want to shake them and make them realise that there is more to life than this.

But am I wrong? Is there actually less to life than this? It is sometimes said that there is no point in accumulating wealth and possessions as you can’t take them with you when you go. But is there any point in accumulating a lot of learning and knowledge? After all, you can’t take it with you when you go either; but like wealth and possessions, you can leave it behind for future generations. If we lived only for what we could take with us, would there be a point?

I guess what matters is what helps each of us reach that level of contentment, of being here and now in the present moment because, after all, it is all we ever have.

I often think about life, existence, why we are here and the purpose of it all, constantly wavering between seeing a point and not. A recent discussion with a friend about her feelings of emptiness and needing to find more purpose and meaning in life disturbed my approaching, but elusive, equilibrium again. Will I ever reach that blissful and enviable state of contentment: knowing and accepting who I am, where I am, where I am going and how I am going to get there? Who knows? But I can have fun figuring it out. I am determined to enjoy the journey. I don’t think there will be much joy at the end!

Which is all very timely with the current flash fiction prompt set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch who talks about actions that we take to reach our goals and challenges writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that describes a moment of being.

I hope you enjoy my response.

Being, positive

“It’s positive,” he said.

She smiled. She knew. She only needed official confirmation.

He wanted dates. She supplied.

But she knew the very moment an unexpected but welcome spark enlivened her being with its playful announcement, “Surprise! I’m here!”

She’d carried the secret joy within her for weeks, never letting on, keeping it to herself, waiting. No one would have believed her without proof. But with her whole being she knew.

Finally, after nine inseparable months, she held the child, distinct and individual. She marvelled at the tiny creation whose existence breathed purpose and meaning into hers.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post and flash fiction.

33 thoughts on “Finding meaning

  1. Sherri

    As you can see Norah, I took the liberty of reading some of the other comments here and your replies which make for such interesting reading to add to your excellent post.
    I resonate so much with all you share here. I was the compliant, people-pleasing child everyone said ‘handled everything so well’ when my parents split up when I was ten. But inside I was seething, wounded, raging, screaming in pain. And nobody listened. So I closed up and kept quiet, never telling anyone anything of my pain, for fear of being told not to be silly. And then, as I entered my teen years and early 20s I experienced episodes of utter rage that I could no longer contain. Not very often,but when I blew, I blew!!! In short, I did what your laundry bag says!
    But even as the years go on, and people say how strong and positive I am, I want to cry out ‘But I’m really not!’ When I started my blog I knew I wouldn’t be able to sustain one that was always positive and upbeat and smiling, so I decided from day one to just write as it was. Having spent a lifetime of feeling like I had to ‘be’ a certain way for others, I decided that now was the time to be the real me. And if that isn’t good enough, well, then I don’t know what else I can do. It would be nice to project perfection and constant positivity, if it were real, but so many of us, life just isn’t like that. We all struggle and it’s so great that we can share that here, amongst friends. You bring out so many interesting points in your post, and I love your tender, beautiful flash. Yes, sometimes you want to ‘burst’ but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a beautiful, caring heart 🙂 As I have said more than once in my life when I’ve ‘lost’ it, much to the surprise of others, ‘I am not a bleeping robot!!!’ Neither are you, thank goodness 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Sherri, for responding with such openness and honesty to my post. I’m really sorry that you were one of the children who held their feelings in check, never daring to reveal them for fear of being silly or whatever other opinion would mean they were unrecognised and not valued as genuine by unsympathetic adults. I remember when my son was six years old and in the first couple of weeks at a new school. His teacher did nothing to help him settle in and he was not very happy. One morning he decided he wasn’t going to stay there any more and started out. The groundsman stopped him at the school gate. My son, used to expressing his feelings, explained why he was leaving. The teacher did not believe him as she thought it impossible that a child his age would be able to express his feelings!!!!!! Need I say she had had very little to do with young children on a personal level! However I don’t think he carried a scar from this through his childhood and beyond, but it certainly made me cross.
      As for blowing like my laundry bag says. You would not have been the only one. Many teenagers and young children are filled with angst over real (as in your case) or imaginary wrongs against them. It can be a time of disequilibrium and sorting out of emotions and values as well as a sense of self. Blowing one’s top was a very common occurrence in my environment when I was growing up.
      I think you and I are kindred spirits in so many ways – choosing to accept ourselves the way we are, enjoying the support and friendship we find through blogging, not being a robot but having true and honest feelings, have a positive outlook that sometimes gets dented or deflated!! Thank you for your smiles, support and encouragement. I really appreciate them! 🙂

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  2. Pingback: Be in the Moment « Carrot Ranch Communications

  3. Bec

    Hi Nor, I agree with all the comments here, this is a very moving post (and many of the comments have been quite moving, too). I suppose we are all together suffering from the human condition. I find the need to be positive challenging sometimes, because I feel that there are many ills on the world and that seeing the positive in these ills can lead to more chronic ills for society and for the self. For example, as you know I despise consumer culture, and I feel that if I was to suppress my negative feelings about it in order to see positives (e.g. “it’s okay that K-mart is filled with junk that is made through exploitation of people who are less fortunate that me, and which is designed to become landfill in a short amount of time, and encourages what selfish consumer behaviour where the main objective for a purchaser is finding the cheapest price because that is “best” for them”), I would be both complacent with a social bad, and would be damaging my own well-being by compromising the consistency of my morals for the sake of a veneer of positivity.

    Though I suspect the music may not be to your taste (!), the film clip for the song Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden comes to mind (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mbBbFH9fAg) – as the world is coming to an end the smiles couldn’t be bigger as people engage in meaningless, shallow behaviours and activities.

    I also think there is a lot of social training where we are “taught” to find particular things distasteful and other’s appropriate. We are expected to celebrate the “success” of people who pursue high income careers, despite the fact that many (not all) of these people will be achieving their goals through institutions which harm others. A somewhat tangential example here is the social reverence for Richard Branson because he is “successful”. In fact he has been celebrated for being revolutionary by pursuing the Virgin space program, and he has claimed that space will no longer be for a select few. I take huge issue with this, because the space programs of the past have been for everyone – knowledge and exploration have been social goods. However Branson’s endeavour will be making space travel an experience which can be purchased by a very small proportion of society – I see no truth to a claim that a $200,000+ one-time experience is something for everyone. Imagine if the money of each ticket was instead directed toward space exploration programs which provided social goods. To get back to the earlier point, I feel like social norms urge me to accept and see the best in this, but I will refuse to do so. I will see individual goods which may come from it (e.g. perhaps there will be some scientific advancements in space travel technology, or some more profound photos of the Earth taken from space), but I will not accept that as a whole this is good.

    Gee your post made me think about so much and want to write so many thoughts in response. Here’s chapter 2 of the comment! I loved your remark on accumulating “things” during life, and questoining the purpose, and there are two parts to the response I would like to make. I love the question you have posed about why if material possessions have no lasting value, do we pursue education? And I think maybe the reason that as readers and I suspect you as author feel there is a difference is because education contributes to society, whereas material possessions contribute to naught (and perhaps detract from society in many ways e.g. depleting resources, causing exploitation during production, adding to landfill and even just through physical clutter which leads to mental havoc and untidiness). So as your FF has argued for the joy that comes from creating the next generation of humans, pursuing education and knowledge adds to the sum total of society’s human capital. The knowledge of one person adds to the knowledge of society. However with material goods, the possessions of one person rarely add to the anything of society. Knowledge and education are limitless, can be shared and gain only strength through distribution, whereas material goods do not have the same exponential growth. The second point is just again pushing my own barrow but your post made me think about it. We are trained to pursue material wealth because being free of scarcity is a good thing for individuals. Repeatedly, there has been a relationship demonstrated between “happiness” and income, where general happiness increases as income increases. However, the relationships plateaus when income reaches somewhere around the $70,000p/a mark – income can continue to increase but happiness does not. This reflects the point where comfort and security become excess, like a corruption of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Instead of fulfilling our pyramid of human needs so pursuing self-actualising activities such as becoming versed in philosophy, practicing art, writing, and music, being mindful, exercising, eating well, helping others, generally improving the world, and so on, we continue to purchase items because we are so trained to “need” more. Perhaps somewhere in here is part of an explanation for the overwhelming emptiness that so many people feel in life.

    I have been talking with some friends recently about how we feel a bit deceived by what the world purported to be during our formative years – many of us entered adulthood with a naive belief that ‘everything would be okay’, but it’s not. People get sick, die, go broke, suffer, get trapped in undesirable situations, loose and never find again the exhilaration of excitement, see friendships wither, and witness what was expected to be a bountiful future of peace and joy erode away (e.g. youth employment, working conditions and hosing affordability, and the general disdain for “young people” perpetuated by the media). You mention looking on the bright side of life, but maybe looking too long at the brightness can be deceiving – I certainly never prepared myself for times of struggle in life.

    Well this has been a bit of a prattle-on from me – look at what your ideas do to your readers, Nor! I hope that you can feel more comfortable in your own emotions – maybe sometimes the negativity you feel is appropriate, and expressing it would be a good thing. Not taking (or even just thinking) about things which cause negative feelings would be like never removing a splinter, but instead allowing it to fester and infect the healthy body around it. The last remark I want to make is to comment that it is very inspirational that, despite everything I have written about the possible necessity of negativity, you choose to own your emotions and thoughts and shape them to fit the way you wish for the world to be. Thanks for the thinking-prompts in this article – all of my comments are written in a spirit of agreement with your post, and an attempt to respond to your candour in kind.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Bec, Thank your for your very long and in-depth comment which is really a post in itself. It challenges, extends, interprets and adds meaning to, my post. I can always rely on you and Anne, at least, to see more than I did and extend the conversation in ways I wouldn’t have thought. I always appreciate and enjoy that.
      Your first response is with regard to consumerism and in particular to goods sold in a particular (representative) store. You however choose to not shop is that store, or others like it; choosing instead to source items for purchase that are produced using fair trade, sustainable, organic, Earth friendly, people friendly practices. Those are positive steps. You believe that those practices will have a positive impact on the future of the Earth, including humanity. How much of a meliorist did you say you were? You may feel frustrated that not everyone does as you do and feel anger at the injustices you see. That is a good thing. However you are making positive steps in your own choices and in demonstrating those practices to others. The world will be better for it!
      I wonder what it was about “Black Hole Sun” that brought it to mind in relation to this post. I have listened to the song (musically I don’t mind it – clip’s a bit gruesome), read the lyrics, and the meaning attributed to the lyrics by the lyricist, Chris Cornell as described on Wikipedia. Cornell said that there was no meaning in the lyrics, and that if there was a meaning to the line “Times are gone for honest men” what he seemed to be describing was a dystopian-type future, of which I am not fond. Maybe it was that the lyrics (and life) have no meaning that brought it to mind?
      I won’t tackle your Richard Branson comment here. You have made a great number of interesting points, in some of which our ideas converge and others diverge. What is most interesting to me is the way that my post has got you thinking about things that hadn’t even entered my mind! Perhaps I didn’t think deeply enough about what I was saying! I think the point is one that we have discussed previously: what each reader brings to and takes away from a text is as individual as the reader and will be greatly influenced by their own thoughts and experiences. The goal of the reader is not only to find out what the author means, but also what the self (reader) means and thinks. As you know, nobody enjoys going off on a tangent more than I do – (seeing something new or different in a word, a phrase or a situation can cause me great mirth!) so I am pleased to see you doing the same thing.
      You have identified the next part of your comment as ‘Chapter two’ so I am going to come back (hopefully) tomorrow and respond to the rest of your comment.
      Thanks for contributing so much to the discussion. You definitely like to challenge my thinking. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! 🙂 I’ll be back!

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    2. Norah Post author

      Hi again, Bec. I’m back to respond to chapter two: accumulation. I like the way you describe education as a contribution to society’s human capital. To learn from the accumulation of knowledge and understanding is both a privilege and a pleasure, and participating in it, a passion. I’m not sure that I entirely agree with all you say about material possessions and happiness relative to income, though I agree with where you are coming from and in principle. I see nothing to aspire to in poverty and appreciate the choice that having a reasonable amount of income allows. I know from what you have written and we have discussed that you were not intending to imply that poverty was a good thing. Your search for goods produced using fair trade and sustainable practices is testimony to your passion for equality, justice and fairness. I agree with you about the obscenely enormous amounts of money that some individuals seem to be able to accumulate, sometimes in ways that we believe have little real value to or positive impact on humanity or the world, when sharing even a small proportion or engaging in fairer practices in accumulating that wealth could make a huge difference to many lives. However I am unable to change that and prefer to look for evidence of better things happening. I accept your position. I am not preaching or trying to change it. The world needs many views and many passions, but all (in my opinion) must work towards the greater good. Your distaste for these inequalities and injustices proves that you do too. We just have different approaches.
      I agree with you too, that material possessions can not in any way fill an internal emptiness.
      I don’t know how to respond to your being deceived. I certainly wanted for you to have a happy childhood, to believe that the world was a good place to be and that good things could happen, wanted to protect you from many of the “evils” in the world. It seems I succeeded, at least in part, in that, but failed to prepare you for the harshness of reality. One of our Prime Ministers famously said, “Life isn’t meant to be easy” and a famous opening line to a book is “Life is a struggle”. I think many children who had disadvantaged and difficult childhoods would only envy the protection you enjoyed. Parents can never get it right!
      Your prattle begot my prattle, or maybe that should be the other way round. I always enjoy our discussions and sharing of ideas. Being able to express opinions in a safe and respectful forum with an interchange of ideas fosters understanding, learning and empathy. As you know, I value your opinions and contribution; but often wonder how they mixed up those babies in the hospital!!!! Just kidding. xo

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      1. Bec

        Hi Nor, thanks for the very detailed response(s) to my comment! You never have to spend such a great amount of time and so much thought replying to what I write, but of course I appreciate that you do. Sorry for prompting you to read into Black Hole Sun, it was really just the imagery in the film clip that came to mind when I was writing about it.

        I think though I really should clarify a couple of the points I made to which you responded in the second comment as I feel I must have not clearly communicated what I was trying to say.

        The income v. happiness relationship is not something I am proposing, that is a relationship presented in a study which surveyed around half a million people on their income, life satisfaction and happiness. Here’s a link to the abstract for the article: http://www.pnas.org/content/107/38/16489.abstract. I also don’t think that $70,000 is anywhere near poverty (maybe it looked like I wrote $7,000?), and in fact one of the overwhelming points which stands out to me is that being impoverished does exacerbate unhappiness, because of a lack of security, poor health, financial stress and so on. I thought the study (and what I was trying to write about in my comment) demonstrates that once all needs (proper needs) are satisfied, and there is the means for resilience from medical and other life events, and some room for choice and comfort, then going beyond that point does little to continue to increase happiness. (The income amount too is an average, so of course can’t be taken as a golden rule – rather is indicative of the comparative level of income for comfort and contentment.) So what I should have explained more clearly, is that when folks reach a position in life where income is increasing beyond whatever is that magic number for their situation, perhaps it would be a good opportunity to look at instead decreasing the amount of time worked (e.g. if someone with an income of $85,000 is looking for more satisfaction in life, they may negotiate an agreement where they work 4 days pro-rata earning around 70,000, then have more time to pursue those activities in life which promote personal growth – more education, writing, music, philosophy, well-being and so on). I hope that makes my point about income and happiness a bit more clear – nothing there was meant to be promoting impoverishment.

        The other thing I should clarify is that my remark on feeling somewhat deceived by the world had nothing to do with parenting, I meant the way society seemed to be full of opportunities. My friends and I felt that we were facing a life of plenty in terms of choices and lifestyles – study whatever was of interest, not what led to a job. Or don’t study at all, just be who you are and things will be okay. And the assumption that society would look after us if things turned bad, but that seems to be not quite the case. I am having trouble articulating exactly what I mean by this, as it’s a combination of the way working conditions have become less secure, and there are current political agendas directed toward making this even less secure (limiting penalty rates, discussion on lowering the minimum wage, removing unemployment benefits for young people in their first 6 moths of being out of work, increasing the cost of tertiary education, plus the trend toward a more casual workforce. Actually there has been data suggesting the current generation of young people will be the first generation in a long time to not be better off than the previous generation, I will see if I can find the data – that’s right it was the Grattan Institute: http://grattan.edu.au/report/the-wealth-of-generations/). I have seen friends become ill, and be at workplaces that do not support them (for example a friend being told to choose between having a job and having treatment for cancer). Another major part of my feelings here is frustration at the decisions I have made in the past, particularly in relation to money – never having saved up for the proverbial rainy day, rather living in the moment at the time and not being worried about the future, and basing major life decisions on an assumption that everything would work out. I have recently learned that I do need to worry about the future, through experience, observation of the experiences of other people I know, through seeing the social structures on which I thought I could depend be – in my view – undermined, and through feeling afraid for the future as the trends in society and climate are not particularly “bright”. So my sincere apologies for making you think I was remarking on your parenting – that was absolutely not my intention and certainly am not ungrateful for the childhood I had. I should have emphasised more clearly that I was remarking on perceptions from when I entered ‘adulthood’ – the view I had of the world at that point in life is different from how I perceive of it now.

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        1. Norah Post author

          Hello again, Bec. Thank you once again, this time for a very detailed and considered response to my comment. I apologise that I may have misrepresented, more than misinterpreted, your comment with my response.
          Thank you for linking to the two articles in your comment. I am aware of similar findings from previous reading, whether from the same studies or not I am not sure. I cannot argue with anything you have said. I cannot deny it was easier for me to get a job teaching than it is currently, even though there are many complaints about the quality of student accepted into teacher education courses. I had to work very hard at school to earn a scholarship to college; but after doing three years of training I was bonded to the state (had a job) for three years. There is no such promise of employment for graduates these days. And yes, my generation had a greater promise of permanency than currently exists, and change is occurring at a much faster rate than before. I can see how that would be unsettling and encourage uncertainty. I can think of many reasons I would love to be your age right now, but I accept that there are just as many difficulties. Thanks for continuing the conversation and sharing your ideas. I appreciate your quest for clarity and understanding. I look forward to many more in-depth conversations. 🙂

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  4. lorilschafer

    You do tend to have a very positive outlook, Norah – I really admire that about you. However, I personally think that the search for meaning and purpose is so fraught with difficulties because deep down, we all suspect that there is no meaning, and there is no purpose. We live as best we can and then we die. It isn’t much to go on – yet somehow it has to be enough. And I think that your approach, of trying to make people’s lives better, of trying to improve the world in which we live, gives a person as much meaning as we are ever going to get out of life.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your perspective, Lori. We live and then we die. That much we know is true! So much else we just make up to help us get through each day.
      I appreciate your support and words of encouragement. I think sharing your life story will have a positive impact upon many lives too. 🙂

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  5. Tara Smith

    I love this post – especially the paragraph that begins with the line: I am an education meliorist, for I feel that that is exactly my position as a teacher as well. It’s hard, too, to reach that state of equilibrium – I’ve come to believe that it’s exactly my inability to be satisfied with what I know and what I do that impels me forward, that compels me to keep striving. It’s that old adage about the unexamined life, isn’t it, who wants to live that life? Thanks for this beautiful, thoughtful post, Norah – what a wonderful way to begin a new week!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you Tara for your lovely words of encouragement. I knew from reading your posts that you were also an education meliorist. How could we keep doing it if we didn’t have a belief that we could make a positive difference? The art of teaching requires a great deal of self-interrogation and reflection and we become used to delving inside figuring out what makes us tick so we can figure out how to get others ticking. I found among my colleagues that those who didn’t engage in that reflection were complacent with their teaching and more easily found inadequacies in the students rather than a need for growth in their own practice.
      I’m pleased it helped start your week on a positive note and hope it continues that way. 🙂

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  6. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Thank you for sharing those real you thoughts Norah.Being a realist makes life harder than those that can blot out the world and see everything as being wonderful. I see it as telling the truth and seeing the truth and that can sometimes be a painful burden.
    Like Anne, your flash which showed the joy of carrying a child and feeling it develop inside you, is something I haven’t experienced but you made me wish with the effectiveness of your words.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for your encouraging words of acceptance and support. I do try to be truthful, my truth I suppose. Even writing that now is a little painfully humourous for it makes me recall the fact that I have occasionally let “untruths” pass my lips. Ouch. White ones. Never meant to do no harm. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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  7. Annecdotist

    An extremely moving flash and post, Norah. Interesting that your flash was about bringing a new human being into the world – a bit painful for those of us who haven’t reproduced, but it seems to me that it’s only at this basic biological level to continue the species that life has any purpose. At least that’s my rationale for having given up looking!
    As someone who is on the receiving end of your positivity, I have a vested interest in seeing it continue. On the other hand, I also have a vested interest in you not burning out from sheer exhaustion, so I’m wondering if you can cut yourself some slack? It’s quite common, especially among women of our generation, to believe that something terrible will happen if we reveal our anger, grumpiness, or more. But these so-called negative emotions are part of being human. It reminds me of a scene in The Simpsons, when Marge tells Lisa that being a woman pushing your feelings down to your feet – so much wisdom in that cartoon IMO.
    Years ago I went on a group holiday when, following a bereavement, I really wasn’t in a fit state to travel. A member of the group had to leave a day or so earlier than the rest of us and give a lovely speech at his final dinner, saying what he had appreciated about each member of the group. When he came to me, I was really shocked that he referred to my positivity – yet how was he to know that I was in tears half the time if I only did it in secret? Perhaps there was no better way of being for me on that holiday but it really shook me up.
    The Monty Python song is one of my favourites, but perhaps for different reasons to yours? I think it’s really clever because it both mocks (there is NOTHING positive about being crucified, you’d be in excruciating pain and misery right to the end) and celebrates (there’s a slim chance we might be able to manage the situation slightly better if we distract ourselves with a jolly little song) positivity.
    As you know, I’m not a meliorist, so my path might not be yours, but mixing the positive and negative works for me.
    I’m sure I’d be happy to meet “the real you”.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Anne, Thank you so much for the depth of your thinking and response to this post, nudging me to do a little (or a lot) more as a result. I always appreciate the value you add to my posts by seeing more in them that I had thought. Maybe that is your background in psychology and my transparency.
      I’m sorry that my flash was painful for you. You had mentioned before that you didn’t have children. For some it is a choice. For others it is a choice thrust upon them, which is really no choice at all. If continuation of the species is the only purpose for life then it sounds like a bit of a conundrum, going around in circles with no real answer. What the heck! We are. Maybe that’s it.
      Thank you for sharing Marge’s insight about women and feelings. I didn’t watch the Simpsons but I have heard that a lot of wisdom was shared through the humour. I guess this episode had particular significance to you as a result of the holiday experience. There were probably many reasons you didn’t share your feelings at that time, but maybe the fact that you didn’t, that you got on with it, contributed to the positivity that he perceived in you. Sometimes too we see in others what we want to see (on the surface) and don’t seek to engage on a deeper level.
      Although I shared the Monty Python song, I was never a Monty Python fan. They were just a bit too silly for me. I see where you are coming from with your interpretation, which is probably the intended interpretation. Not having watched the movie, and being familiar with the song out of context meant that even when I glimpsed, rather than noticed, the crucifix in the clip (which I didn’t watch I only listened to) I didn’t think about its significance. Just goes to prove how much more thinking I have to do as a result of the wisdom you share in your comments!
      Thank you for your ongoing contribution and support. I value it highly. 🙂

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      1. Annecdotist

        Oh, no, I didn’t find your flash painful at all (though looking back at my comment I can see how it could have looked like that), I thought it was lovely. What I meant was that if the only meaning of life can be found in the biological function, many of us are failures. However, we are meaning-making meaning-seeking creatures with brains that will look for rationales beyond that – they may not be “right” but if they work for us, that’s all that matters.
        Interesting about your take on the Monty Python song – I love that whole film although, like you I found their TV shows a bit silly at times.
        I’m not sure if I find deeper meaning in your writing or just different – it’s always interesting, as you said to Bec, what new discoveries we make in the space between reader and writer.

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        1. Norah Post author

          Hi Anne, Thanks for popping back and adding more to the conversation. I enjoy our discussions because we don’t view everything in the same way but we are still able to share ideas and learn from each other. Thank goodness biological reproduction isn’t the only way of making a meaningful life – there would be far too many failures. Sadly I see failure in many who have been biologically reproduced, and continue to biologically reproduce themselves (ambiguity intended). Oh slap my face! That was a bit naughty wasn’t it? You and Bec always give me a good run for my money, finding meaning in my words that I never intended! I love it! Thanks!

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  8. Charli Mills

    Each moment is a choice. I think those who do think and acknowledge learning as a lifetime activity or even a lifestyle is perhaps more aware. My husband tends to make sharp comments and when I call him on it, he initially seems surprised. He then thinks about it and either apologizes or redirects what he meant. He doesn’t think before he speaks. I’m more like you. I struggle with initial reactions that are no where near nice, but then choose my next words carefully. Often I find that by looking for the positive I feel more positive but it doesn’t negate that i deal with negative thoughts and emotions, too. Your openness also reveals your desire to share and grow from what you experience. Ah, and then your flash. That’s like being positive from the very beginning! A wonderful take on the flash! And thanks for the Monty Python chuckle and the Ted Talk inspiration!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks so much for your ongoing affirmation and encouragement Charli. Each moment definitely is a choice. I think we have discussed before that we can choose to be in the moment or somewhere else. I was going to say that it is better to choose to be in the moment, but that may depend on the moment. I was thinking about Marnie and how she used the unicorn to escape the present moment in others of my flash responses.
      I’m not sure that I’m always successful in choosing my words carefully. Sometimes they’re out before I’ve thought to check them. Sarah Brentyn had a great saying on her blog this week: A closed mouth doesn’t gather any feet. I thought it was great and one that I’ll need to remind myself of from time to time.
      I consider myself a fairly private person, not much of a talker, more of a listener; so it interests me that I have seem to have revealed so much of myself, particularly my shortcomings, in my posts. I do think about “things” a lot and vacillate a lot in the shades of grey, questioning myself when I think I have made a decision or statement that is more black or white than grey. Writing is a thinking process. It helps me clarify and consider my thoughts. The discussion that ensues in comments from wonderful people such as yourself supports that process further. It surprises me what I learn, particularly how little my thinking and shallow my thoughts.
      I’m pleased you enjoyed my flash, Monty Python and TED. I value your company in the blogosphere! 🙂

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  9. TanGental

    The dark tea times of our souls. I know exactly what you articulate so well, the fight to either suppress or embrace and turn to a positive the negative churlish thoughts that intrude. We’re trainee oysters, embracing those pieces of grit and trying to turn them into pearls of positivity. Not always successful but if you keep spitting and rolling with it you never know where you’ll end up.
    The flash too has a smile infused through it.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I like the idea of being a trainee oyster and making pearls of positivity. It is an image that has a lot of appeal. I’d rather turn that grit into a pearl than just become a sourpuss, which could be so easy to do! I’m pleased you got a smile from my flash.It was possibly a bit more positive in outlook than my flash pieces often are! Thanks for your comment. 🙂

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  10. Sarah Brentyn

    Will be back to watch the TED video and comment (more thoroughly). Your photo of the laundry bag took me by surprise. And here I thought I knew you… 😉 Everyone struggles. It was just a bit of a shock to see that on your blog. I think you might be right — people do see you as all positive all the time. I know I’ve made comments about it. I am impressed by this ability you have and I never gave much thought to the fact that this is something you might struggle with. That I am sorry for. P.S. Thanks for the Monty Python laugh. 😀

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Sarah. You have commented on my positive outlook, and I do appreciate your acknowledgement of it for I do work at it. But I do feel a bit of a fraud sometimes when people tell me how kind, patient, thoughtful, positive etc I am. I think “If only you knew the real me”. But maybe the fact that I have been working on it, and that’s what people see, maybe I am that now. Maybe my years of practice have paid off. 🙂 Just need to keep those buds in check!

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