It's full of trial and error and good and bad chemistry. Living fully means testing boundaries - like the time you wanted to see if you could eat thirty White Castle burgers in five minutes. You cheered when you did it, but as Newton's Law states, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Unfortunately, your joy and the joy of those who encouraged you to do it was short lived.
|Caution: Some experiments may cause an explosion|
I don't know everything, but there are three things I'm sure of:
1. Most people are addicted to their phones, computers, and/or social media
2. The loudest members of society are crazy oversensitive
3. Our level of gratitude is at an all time low - we complain about everything
If White Castle doesn't get us first...
We're going to stall our own development and progress and eventually kill each other, leaving the cockroaches to feast on all of the wine and fast food we left behind.
Let's take the teen who is punished and has his phone taken away from him. Because we are of the mindset that everything should be done in real-time and with the least amount of clicks and keystrokes, the grieving process has changed slightly. This teen will not go through seven stages of grief. Instead, he will go through several abbreviated stages of grief.
1. Denial and Anger - "You can't do this to me! It's my phone! I won't be able to get up on time or do my homework! What? I have no idea how to set the alarm clock, and there is no way you are getting me to use a pencil!"
2. Bargaining - "If you give me another chance, I won't run away. But if you don't, I swear I'm going to take off. If I don't have my phone, then Netflix, X-Box, meals cooked by mom, my own personal chauffeur, and a warm bed with a roof over my head mean nothing to me anyway..."
3. Noisy, Angry Acceptance - "Fine. Don't give me my phone. You all hate me anyway. My life sucks and this family is totally dysfunctional, but fine. Nothing goes right for me, so why should this be any different?" *slams door to bedroom where he stays, isolated, and in a teen induced coma until the punishment is over*
|You can't escape your demons|
He learns to sleep away his problems, still unable to form a sentence without a hashtag or emoji to get his point across. His anger at how unfair the world is never dissipates, and after he gets his phone back, he spends the next twenty minutes Instagramming and Snap Chatting unhappy selfies---so his friends can really feel his pain. Black and white filters and skeleton face apps are his minions and his mission to spread negativity is successful.
I don't claim to have all of the answers.
But I do remember a time when gratitude was that feeling I got any time my brother hid the wooden spoon. Because of him, all disciplining would be postponed till my mom figured out where I stashed the belt. And the feeling grew, because I knew that if she suspected either of us, we'd alibi for each other all day long. #FamilyBondingDoneOldSchool
No matter how we used to do it, I stand by my ability to ebb and flow with the times, and I'm a problem solver. Plus, after a few drinks, some consider me creative.
One evening, I spiraled when I was home, surfing the internet. It was clear after reading just a few posts, that if negativity was a vaccine, no one would ever get sick again. Instead, the reality is that negativity is a disease---a quick acting, contagious disease that spreads to the masses, like those viral videos of cats. Or people walking into glass doors.
My brain went right into grab that carafe and fix-it mode. Three cocktails later, I knew that GrAPPtitude was the answer.
It came to me when I realized that even though my insides were soaked with alcohol from at least three different countries, I was breathing, thinking, and typing away---I was alive and functioning.
My kids were downstairs, and I could barely hear their screams as they ripped the hair from each other's heads.
I called out to them, "Stop licking each other's faces and shut the hell up! Mommy's working!", completely aware that the tingly feeling in my chest was not the vodka repeating on me. I was filled with an appreciation for my kids. They're such a blessing.
And with miraculous epiphanies like these, GrAPPtitude was born. As I downed the last drop of liquid in my glass, I stopped myself from slipping into the abyss with everyone else. For I knew that eventually, one survivor would climb the stairs and appear. That child would be the one to get me the bottle that now seemed so far away, and all would be right again.
|In the zone|
Lost in my positivity, I began to outline the terms of GrAPPtitude:
This app will use keywords to identify negative posts. Then your phone will physically shock you so that you stop typing. At that point, a message will be created, one that will be unique and appropriate to whatever you were trying to put out into the world.
You were going to complain publicly about no one liking your last Facebook post. After you regain feeling in your legs, Siri, or whatever you've named your phone voice will yell:
"You feel ignored?! You want to talk about being ignored? Let's call your mother. I know you've forgotten her number, but I've got it right here!"
You start to tweet about how horrible your cramps are. Once you're able to bend your fingers again, the app screams at you:
"It's just your period! You think you know pain? That slipped disc in Aunt Jessie's back doesn't know what a day off is! Now click on the coupon for free chocolate and shut the hell up!"
|Caution: Excessive Negativity Is Bad For Your Health|
And so much more:
OMG it's Monday: "Are you complaining about having to put down the wine so you can go to the job that pays for your blackouts every weekend?"
I'm so broke. I never have money: "I'm sure that Netflix, your service provider, manicurist, and latte dealer will be very disappointed."
There are worse things than Starbucks taking the snowflakes off of their red holiday cups, or Christmas trees missing from the Santa backdrop at the mall.
When you consider what others gave up to give you the life you so freely complain about, stop to ponder where you'd be if George Washington had decided that he couldn't lead this nation because dentures really didn't reflect his brand. Or if he and his men felt it was only fair that they should be off on Christmas Day. And besides, it was just too cold to cross the Delaware River with no shoes on anyway....
Tonight I will make a gratitude list before bed.
I'll make sure to include how grateful I am that I had three kids instead of only two. Someone's gotta get me the TV remote and paint my nails while the other two fix me something to eat....
CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States.
You can now order SUKI on Amazon or at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE.
Her blogs have been syndicated on multiple sites including The Masquerade Crew. More posts like these can be found at Humor Outcasts and The Patch where she is a regular contributor.
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