If you follow me on Twitter or subscribe to my blog, you might characterize me as a sunny, Pollyanna-type. If pressed further, you might speculate that I’m only this happy because I’ve never faced anything jarringly sad or unfortunate.
At the same time, if you’ve read my first novel, Four Rubbings, you might have a hard time accepting the dark images I stir up, the complicated characters, the terrifying revelations. Yes, this is part of me, too. I have darkness as well as light inside. But, both the blogging and the suspense writing are socially-acceptable ways for me to express all of myself.
So, yes. Bad things have happened to me, as to you, I suspect, because we weren’t raised in a bubble. Awful events. Sad. Tragic. And raw, even, if I choose to dwell on the memories. But, I don’t. I can’t, actually. Not if I’m going to be a good mother to my kids, a supportive best friend to my husband, an enthusiastic volunteer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not denying the bad stuff happened, I just force myself to take a different perspective on it, is all.
Perspective. That’s why I painted you the zoetrope above. It’s a simple machine, but it depends on perspective to work correctly. You thread a strip of paper into the middle of the drum, spin it, and the series of drawings rotate in a perpetual loop, like a crude movie. It’s like Vine, without the hashtags and comments.
When viewed from above, the pictures blur together, becoming the fuzzy outline of a never-ending mountain range. But, lower yourself. Look inside the drum, nose nearly touching the mechanism, and the drawings jerk to life. Then, pull back a foot or so, and the strip of paper becomes a smooth loop of action. Just a slight adjustment in perspective makes a dramatic different.
It takes effort to shift perspective. And now that I’m active in social media, it’s exhausting. As a student of the media, a communications major at the University of Washington, I learned the statistics. Mainstream news loves negative stories, the ones that strike fear, evoke raw emotion, and oftentimes pit you against me, us against them. Fear is their money-maker. And anger is it’s red-lipped whore. I remember reading one study that said people who rely on mainstream media for the bulk of their information have a skewed perspective on how much violence occurs, and the result is that they live in fear. And guess who consumes the most mainstream media? Seniors.
Yes, bad things happen in the world. Sometimes they occur in the apartment next door, other times it’s half a globe away. We will care deeply. But, if we feel we can’t do anything to exact change or help out, then we’re left feeling hopeless. Studies have confirmed this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to hide your head in a hole and pretend that world events don’t matter, they do. People will always matter. I’m simply challenging you to shift your perspective after consuming the hard stuff. If it really hurts you, research ways to help, donate, promote a worthy cause. But, if you can’t do anything about it, then maybe you can help the world best by putting something positive out there, a cyber-hug of sorts. Even if it’s to publicly thank your lucky stars that you have your health, a roof over your head and food in your cupboards. Your perspective may be the thing that encourages someone else to keep trying, keep living, and make their own peace with the darkness.