"When people ask, 'How are you?' have the nerve sometimes to answer truthfully. You must know, however, that people will start avoiding you…" Mayo Angelo.
When the parish priest asked my nan how she was one Sunday after mass, she lent on her stick and let rip " To be honest, I just feel like jumping in the river and letting my hat float. " My nan could moan for England and although her constant rants about her "bloody knees", and the rising prices on the Streatham High Road drove us up the wall, I'm beginning to admire her sentiment. We live in age where putting on a front and being positive have reached critical mass, as though saying how you really feel is akin to wetting yourself in public.
The Internet is teeming with chat rooms and forums full of people pouring their hearts out. Many are lonely, some depressed others seem close to letting their hats float. Nobody has asked them how they are but they feel a need to tell someone because everyone they meet seem to be coping so well. They are referring to the followers of the new cult of positive thinking. Having a moan about relentless toddler tantrums, financial hardship or hating your job is letting the side down. People have become fearsome with their evangelical Zeal, Negative comments or moans are shot down with withering one liners "Oh it's not that bad". " I wouldn't go that far" or my personal favourite ' You just get on with it". I find this brand of pathological positivity oppressive and I'm nowhere near a river in my hat.
I feel like an idiot abroad, if someone asks me how I am I tell them, it was the way I was brought up. I do not expect sympathy or solutions I'm just not a very good actress, I can't help it if my personality is not in vogue. In my mind it is not positive thinking that improves your life it's taking action. A shitty situation is a shitty situation. Brushing it under the carpet with a smile is simply storing up more cleaning for later on, I'm all for dragging the carpet out and giving it a good beating. Some things in your life need changing, not looking at from a different angle with a false grin on your face. Am I the only one that finds moaning hilarious? It lies at root of much of our British comedy , much more of this forced jollity and we won't have anything left to laugh about.
My grandmother never did jump in that river. She lived into her eighties surviving the last rites by six months. She was a woman who danced her way through the blitz but had no truck with the stiff upper lip. People may have looked the other way when they saw her coming but there was no denying she was a tough old bird because most of the time there is no choice but to get on with it, it's a given isn't it. If I've learned anything it is that people don't always want to hear it and the world has it's place for sunny types. But there is also a place for people who like a good old fashioned moan and you may just find, if you let your guard down a little, people won't just smile and cross the street they'll seek you out. Not for sympathy or solutions but for a little bit of recognition. It's not drowning but waving, because we all have to get on with it, it's just comforting to know we are all swimming in the same river.