In this week's Write on Wednesday (and it's almost NEXT Wednesday -- I'm a tad behind!) Becca talked about the news -- mostly bad or distressing if you listen to network or often even local news.
She discusses an Ingrid Bengis quote - “Words are a form of action, capable of influencing change.” Yet, she acknowledges, it can be easy to sink into pessimism in writing, often asking "what's the point? Who cares?" Then she asks:
How about you? How do you find positive things to write about in these troubled times? Do you think the written word has the power to effect positive change?
Here's my take on that one - My 401 K is taking such a dive that I will probably be working till I'm in "the home." Our pledge drive is tanking and everyone at work is sniping at everyone else - and that makes day-to-day a pretty awful spot to be in. And for a month, my arm will be in a sling and I probably won't be able to write much of anything.
Maybe that last one is a good thing.
Right now the only thing I want to write is Marmelade Gypsy and I'm afraid my lack of desire to do much else will make its way into my finished words.
My mother used to say "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all," and somewhere along the way, I grew up with a remarkable brand of "half-full" optimism that often annoys people around me.
What's the good of bitching about it to the n-th degree if you can do little about it? And isn't it better to do something positive than negative?
I'm always trying to see the good in something instead of the annoying or bad - which totally drives people who are inclined to go the other way nuts.
Here's an example - The wetland area in our subdivision carved out by an extremely expensive sewer project, I tend to think of as a park. It's a wonderful spot for taking a walk, and I often see cranes and ducks.
Rick is more likely to call it a ditch - and with some reason - his tax assessment that contributed to that project was over $14,000.
We don't always agree about that particular area.
And, I could cite dozens more examples from my workplace. Ultimately, I don't find it productive.
I truly believe we get back what we reflect out. If I smile at people - even people I don't much care for - they tend to smile back. They may have a positive conversation with me and that may make me feel better about them. It’s why I end up answering calls and email from angry DTV users and put in the position of being the go-between of the children who don’t like playing with one another at work.
(And yes, one could argue, "well, that's fake and insincere." But I don't see it that way -- I see it as a sincere attempt to make both our lives better and the work we have to do together a little easier.)
And I sort of don’t mind it, because I’d rather deal with them in my happy-pink-cloud way than listen to other people complain about having to work with each other.
I'm not too happy about the market crashing. But it does make me evaluate my priorities somewhat differently. When I'm dining out, it's because it's special, not just that I'm lazy. And we've had some wonderful dinners with some fabulous and inexpensive wine!
I'm shopping less for my wild personal pleasure. I'm using my yarn stash, not buying new. I'm steering clear of Michael's and JoAnn's unless I need something very specific. Apart from buying Tab, I'm really steering clear of more frivolous grocery store purchases. So, when I get something I really love a little over the top - like Kalamata olives - then I savor them.
Becca asked if we thought "the word" brought positive change. I agree wholeheartedly. It’s very easy to demonstrate that with the spoken word.
When I was a theatre major, one of our assignments was reading the phone book. Last name, first name, number - on and on. We'd get a list of emotions and in saying the same words conveyed love, anger, annoyance.
Think about it - say "Thank you so much" to someone. It can be sarcastic, overly effusive (and possibly insincere), flippant and uncaring or genuine and filled with gratitude.
The written word is a little more sketchy. How many times have you sent an e-mail that is taken with offense, when you were merely being concise, not curt? Or received one? More care is required to convey the tone.
"Thank you SO much," she said, accepting the bouquet of roses with a tear in her eye.
"Thank you SO much," he replied, as she shoved a stack of folders in his arms, reminding him of their urgency.
Powerful arguments are written, newspaper stories crafted - all to present a point of view (sometimes objective, sometimes very subjective). I have read articles that have driven me to action and some where I just laugh because they're so awful. (And some where I laugh because they're funny, they make me feel better and that's positive in a different way!)
Lynn Truss' book "Eats Shoots and Leaves" also emphasizes the power of punctuation in writing - it's more than words, folks. And that's important to remember.
Rick told me this morning that he sent his first text message while he was on vacation to his son and another to his niece. He noted the weird phone keyboard and said, "No wonder people spell the way they do."
That worries me. But that's probably another post.
I can tell you that reading the written word can affect change that is very positive. I plan to do that a lot over the next month. I'll let you know how it goes!
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