Senior Alycia W. has been at 2st Century for the past three years. Alycia plans to take a gap year after graduation but promises Mrs. Vice she will continue to write during that time. Alycia was inspired to write this blog while completing a “30 Minute Blog” activity in her Independent Study class. Alycia also led the charge to convince her teacher that the whole class needed a bit more time than 30 minutes to complete the blog!
You have a mission. Under all circumstances, you must follow instructions for the preceding minute.
Ready? Absolutely certain? Alright:
Don’t think about elephants.
Remove every thought of the charcoal, roughly textured skin; the tusks sharpening into a perfect cusp; the sheer resonance that quakes whatever ground they step foot upon. You’re not to think of them at all.
Of course not. You can’t think of anything except elephants now.
Repressing what seemed natural to your brain caused the exact opposite effect. Most of us fail to realize that we view negativity the same way – and that is an arguably more burdensome elephant.
Western society emphasizes a crazed need for happiness as if it’s a goal, a fixed point in time and space rather than an emotion. So, what’s left besides reaching our destination? We cleanse our iPods of depressing lyrics and petition for films to trigger less despair. Everything must be happy. Advertisements for things and experiences that stimulate happiness cheer us on. “C’mon, you’re almost there! Just buy this and go on that vacation and, oh, look at that! The negativity is cured.” This is not materialism – this is simply false advertising. We are afraid of negativity. We’re afraid to be human.
The problem lies directly in ‘curing’ sadness. Is it a disease? Are emotions like fear and distress biologically programmed into our minds for naught? Did evolution simply mismanage its job? We forget that, by its very purpose, evolution provided our minds with the exact necessities for our souls. Being human is such a vast and wildly chaotic experience. Read a book, and you will find it evokes this law relentlessly. Stories among the greatest, most heart-swelling and astute reflections of humanity: none of them revolve around perfect satisfaction. If they do, it never lasts. Something must always ruin the fun. Why? Because this is exactly how life works. It’s chaotic, yet just how things are supposed to be.
Visualize the concept as a piano. White keys exist just as black keys. The white keys sound resplendent, and help produce compositions entirely within a major (or ‘happy’) key. But we tend to forget that black keys play music, too. And we cannot understand just how beautiful the major notes are until we hear the minor key.
Happiness is elusive. Even in our most euphoric moments, we don’t have a firm grasp, and it feels as though our contentment might slip away. That’s ok. Honestly. Can you imagine how tedious happiness would grow upon constant existence? If everything is happy, nothing is.
Play the black keys. Don’t actively seek them out – but when the composition calls for them, embrace it. Savor the negative tonality; treasure it, so you can truly celebrate its opposite. Do not make your purpose to ‘feel good’. Make your goal to be human, and welcome whatever experiences will make you a better one.
Ironically, you might find yourself – in the long run – happier.