Friday, December 18, 2009

For Drungil: why I am a positive thinker but don't like happy thoughts

I keep holding back on talking about this part of my life.

My poem Part 2 of 2 Parts: Background to “Every Day I Write God a Letter by Way Of Maintaining Connection & Lessening Rage” -- which follows my poem Part 1 of 2 Parts: Every Day I Write God a Letter by Way Of Maintaining Connection & Lessening Rage in my collection, lays it out. Christian Science mother. Worse than worse case Christian Science scenario, being my mother's unsuccessful twenty-freaking-year attempt to pray away cancer. And THEN the fun began.

As deeply fond as I am of American positive thinking, slyly proud of its link to American "can do" and help of self, to our balanced belief in order by ordering, i.e. to-do lists, championed by the Aristotle of the States - Benjamin Franklin, I have an equal and opposite reaction to my fond reaction.

My rebellion against the implicit insistence that I didn't have a body, that flesh was a trap, that we could think away disease reached its height when I refused to go to Sunday School. I was thirteen or fourteen, and did not make my case rationally but dramatically, by tearing up a piece of C.S. literature and throwing it at my mother.

Oh, the shame I carry for that. I love my mother, who passed in 2001, so much. So many years ago and I realize how I must have broken her mother-heart which had already suffered with my three sisters' typical rebellions. My father is a whole different thing. And that, of course, was the point, breaking her heart, getting back at her for various things, and many of which were out of her control. Home sweet home.
So, lovely Drungil, you walked into a trap that's been set for most of my life; it automatically resets itself. I'm always ready, tensed to fight, to say no, to resist, react. What did Drungil do? She sent me an affirmation from Louise Hay, whose parents were Christian Scientists and who is an alleged queen of American Easy Breezy Good Feeling.

Truth is, I like affirmations. Truth is, when I was at the height of my battle with Satan Himself (that's how I'm going to epitomize my self-destructive thinking and behavior), I would copy out pages of simple affirmations from Florence Scovel Shinn, another American original. She wrote The Game of Life and How to Play It; Your Word Is Your Wand; and other titles I hesitate to list because they all sound hokey and simplistic, but I endorse them. My father was a rager and a drinker and both engender bad thoughts which I imbibed. In my thirties, a friend in Seattle gave me a tape on positive thinking. Another friend who'd known me since high school commented, "That's [negativity] always been your biggest problem." My goal has been to blow that shit up.

I am a friend of positive thinking, also Swedenborg, Spinoza, Socrates, Aristotle, Augustine, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard. No one thinks their way anywhere, not even Mr. Spock, and if he couldn't do it, well, what of the rest of us. We can prepare the psyche (breath, spirit, soul) to receive impressions of the beauty and hope of the world.
The image is of Mrs. Shinn (as she's referred to) ( ).

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