Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lesson 2: There is a positive and negative in almost every situation

copper plated battery clamps, 75 amp
"There must be a positive and negative in
everything in the universe in order to complete
a circuit or circle, without which there would
no activity, no motion." --John McDonald

Listen up. Last time we talked about how the mind works during a crisis: how it goes from denial, confusion, anger, grudging acceptance. Today, the daddy is feeling what happens after we come to slowly accept our fate. Unfortunately, many of us fall into a period of feeling sorry for ourselves, saying "Bad things always happen to me." If we continue to think this way, we may lapse into a prolonged funk, a period of thinking and feeling negative about ones yourself and life in general. That's a depression.

Let's say you find out you have cancer. After going through the normal mental process of denial, confusion, anger, and grudging acceptance, you may continue to think negative; and, if you aren't careful, you will think that everything is bad and you're going to die next week.

Of course, hidden in this negative thinking are some positive facts:

1. First, getting cancer is not a metaphor for death. We're living in a time when much research has already been done on cancer, and the medical profession has learned quite a bit about how to deal with this disease;

2. Far from immediate death, cancer can now be treated by a number of therapies which were not available only a few years ago, therapies that can allow you or your family member to live much longer.

3. In addition, there are alternative therapies from acupuncture to Chinese herbs dating back thousands of years that can work with western therapies and help you live longer and more comfortably with cancer.

4. Unlike times in the past, you won't necessarily have to travel great distances in great pain to get help. Speedy cars, paved roads and increased medical assistance now makes it easier to get medical help in a timely manner.

5. You are not going through this alone. Besides a knowledgeable, competent medical staff with modern equipment, you also have family members, and even other cancer patients to support you.

Due to your emotional state, you may be unable to see that your cancer can lead you to travel new roads that will help you to not only live with cancer but to live life more fully. However, the fact that you may not may be due to a combination of the stage of your mind in its process of adjustment and to your lack of knowledge about the disease, especially the research that makes it possible for you to live with the disease.

Check this. The daddy had the pleasure of seeing the great blues guitarist Albert Collins (who taught Jimi Hendrix a thing or two about feedback) several times before he died of cancer a few years ago. In this last show the daddy saw, Collins played a slow blues ballad at the end of the set; and just before the end of the song, just before he tore it up on his Fender Telecaster, he had the band drop the low. And as the drums, bass and the rhythm guitar played ever so softly, this is what he said:
Albert Collins

Albert Collins

"Ladies and gentleman. We got to get out of here.
But I want you to know one thing.
Though the night may be dark and long,
Daylight will find us with our head up,
Shoulders back, Walking tall,
Living strong, moving on."

Once your mind gets to the point where it can see the positives as well as the negatives, the good as well as the bad, you will be on your way to living "strong," living life to the fullest-- moving on to an even better you.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

No matter how negative a problem or development in my life, there is always one positive I can count on. One positive that will always be available to soothe my pain away: NATURE. I've experienced her healing powers countless times but Deb Aronson of Science & Spirit sums it up best:

Can contact with nature relieve anxiety and stress, aid healing, and increase concentration? It appears that it can, even when 'contact' is defined in the loosest way. Some researchers now suggest that passive contact with nature, like looking at trees from a car, can be as therapeutic as a walk in the woods. It appears that nature can really provide nurture -- for the young and old, healthy and sick, alike.

Here's why.

'We have two kinds of attention,' says Andrea Faber Taylor, an environmental psychologist and postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois. The first is the 'directed attention' we call on for tasks that require focus, like driving or doing our taxes. Directed attention tends to be tiring, however, and fatigue affects our ability to make good decisions and control destructive impulses. The best way to restore directed attention is to give it a rest by shifting to the second type, 'involuntary attention,' which we display when we watch a fire or meditate, for instance. Looking at nature is another activity that gives our directed attention a chance to recover.

For example, Roger Ulrich and his colleagues at Texas A&M University found that people who commuted along scenic roads recovered more quickly from stressful driving conditions than those who saw billboards, buildings, and parking lots. Ulrich also noted something he termed an 'inoculation' effect: Drivers who had taken the scenic route responded more calmly to stressful situations later on. Ulrich also looked at patients recovering from gallbladder surgery. The patients who could see trees from their hospital beds needed fewer painkillers and had shorter hospital stays than those who looked out on brick walls.

So, with all our efforts to alleviate stress -- from aerobics and yoga to anti-anxiety pills -- maybe the key is as simple as a garden. In fact, even a little bit of green seems to make a big impact. Some studies suggest that a houseplant or even a picture of nature can convey similar benefits.

'It used to be that we looked at cataclysmic events, like divorce or loss of a job, as stressors,' says Kathleen Wolf of the College of Forest Resources at the University of Washington. 'But now we are seeing that our daily lives have constant small stressors, and the cumulative effect is significant. Consequently, even small, incremental contacts with nature in our daily lives are beneficial.'

In her study, Andrea Faber Taylor looked at children living in Chicago's notorious Robert Taylor Homes housing project. The children she studied were all from the same socioeconomic bracket; all were African American; all lived in virtually identical apartments to which their families had been randomly assigned; and all lived on the second, third, or fourth floors, the best levels for viewing nature. The only difference was that some apartments overlooked trees and grass while others overlooked pavement.

Girls who could see nature from their windows were better able to concentrate, and to control impulsive behavior, as measured in standard psychological tests. These behaviors tend to help children resist peer pressure and sexual pressure, and help in other challenging situations.

'Our theory was that public housing is a very fatiguing environment,' says Faber Taylor. 'It turns out that small amounts of greenery seem to make a big difference. You don't have to live in Sherwood Forest to enjoy nature's benefits.'

By creating more green spaces, particularly in urban areas, we could minimize, or at least buffer, the stresses of everyday life and the long-term costs in mental and physical health associated with stress. Now that's a magic bullet.
March 19, 2009 12:55 PM

Anonymous said...

Dear Daddy,
I'm sorry, but I must disagree with you. There are usually no positive consequences to rape,
domestic violence -- physical, verbal, or emotional abuse; or the untimely death of a child

People rarely, if ever, recover enough to find "positives" about these things. Sometimes, the best some of us can hope for is the dulling of one's pain over time, and sufficient ability to distract oneself from the pain and suffering.

That said I am happy you have such support and such a strong mind that you can see these positives. You are probably a person of extraordinary resilience and strength. But remember there are many among us who do not have such innate blessings, and suffer greatly.


Nun in the Hood said...

Dear MacDaddy,
Yes, this series on CRISIES in our lives is timely!!!Personally, I believe that in the misdt of all the bad, bad news, we are going to discover that we have EACHOTHER! I believe that the hidden treasure is the ability to once more experience that RELATIONSHIPS will get us through and that ultimately that's all that really counts.....
READERS, be sure to read MacDaddy's sidebar on Mama D....A wonderful example of a meaningful relationship in hislife and thousands of others....

Solomon said...

Great series MacDaddy,

I have been through the ringer this last year, I am recovering from something that I didn't think there was a cure for.

When I was going through the pain and all the stages you talk about all I could see was pain, pain, pain, but as the fog is clearing I see that there are some positives to my situation.

The biggest positive is I found out who my friends are, because after everything that happened in my life, almost everyone I knew abandoned me, they all took the high road, the easy way out.

Rather than stick by someone they knew and have to deal with what happened, most of the people hat I thought were my good friends quit calling, and quit stopping by, quit caring about if I was alright or not.

This hurt me even more than the original issue. For the better part of eight months all I did was feel sorry for myself, wondering what I did wrong that most of my friends would turn their backs on me like this. But now I see it as a positive, and the positive being that I found out that these people were really never my friends.

I have found in my life that it is hard to find friends that will be there for you no matter what, through thick and thin. In my experience people will always be there when things are good, or you have something they want.

I always seem to find out who my true friends are when times are tough.

I know one thing for sure. That many of the people I talk to every day in the blogsphere I would consider some of my closest friends. They are not the fair weather friend types that seem to be everywhere these days.

Thanks for being there MacDaddy, and great series.

CurvyGurl ♥ said...

I've spent most of my life only considering the negativity of the negative things, but I agree that there's often a positive aspect. It was only recently that I started limiting the anger over things I can't change and looking for the positive I can pull out not matter how big or minute. It is what you make it. Of course, the most tragic events shape you in different ways, but I tend to believe just about everything happens for a reason, even though it's not always immediately evident.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of relationships, Nun, reminds me of SOMEBODIES FRIEND --one of my favorite handles in this blogosphere and more important --a valued contributor we haven't heard from in awhile. Hope all is well with you my friend. Perhaps you're having computer miseries as we all do from time to time! We miss you.

MacDaddy said...

Solomon: When I went to the hospital and had an operation, many of my women friends showed before I got operated and when I was brought me back to the recovery room.About 25 of my women friends came. But only two men. The men didn't call or email on my computer. Like you, I had to come to terms with the fact that they were never really friends anyway, only people I hung with, only associates. But it was a painful lesson, because I really like them like brothers. I think they liked being around me for something could get in one way or another.We both learned our lesson.

Anon2: Well said. Thank you for such a well-written and thought piece.

Anon3: I hear you. It is difficult to think of someone getting over rape of domestic abuse, especially long-term domestic abuse. As you know, I've worked with women and men who have been involved in abuse. Though things looked very hard for them, though they had to move their children to shelters, though they many not have had any money, I've seen them get better. First, they gottten away from being harmed. Second, they've gotten someone to talk to about the abuse (a counselor or therapist). They have to begin to think of their future separate from the man: What kind of work she wants to do? What she wants to study, if she goes back to college? So, her being abused may have been terrible, but it opened doors to a new life, an new life of starting over with her kids and without a man whose abuse made her afraid for her and her children. I'm just saying I've seen women in abusive situations leave and have positive things happen for them.

"It was only recently that I started limiting the anger over things I can't change and looking for the positive I can pull out not matter how big or minute."
That sounds profoundly mature. Can you give an example of something that happened that got you there?

MacDaddy said...

Somebodiesfriend: Anon is right. How are you? You've made friends on this blog. You can't just walk away without letting us know how you are...We miss you, brotha.

CurvyGurl ♥ said...

Yep, I sure can. I was extremely spoiled growing up to the point of being a shrewd manipulator. more mama and daddy and reality smacked me big time. To be honest, I think a great deal of my past frustration was clearly linked to me not getting my way.

Well, the disconnect between me and an old friend last summer broke me down more so than any incident in recent memory. I know part of it was a broken heart, the rest was purely related to my inability to get him to do what I wanted him to...his feelings didn't even cross my mind until months later. I realized that if we hadn't parted ways I never would have started blogging, nor even thought to look at myself as a whole...faults and all. That's only one example, but I'm starting to take a different perspective on a number of life issues, which I'm really enjoying.

I've learned a great deal over the past year and can honestly say that I wasn't as wise as I I've even learned to keep loving people in spite of things that may happen, especially when there are underlying factors that aren't apparent on the surface.

I love what Sagacious Hillbilly mentioned yesterday about these things being AFGO (another f'in growth opportunity)

brownsugatou said...

Although I've heard this message increasingly over the years I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. Lord knows it's always good to hear positive messages over and over again, especially when it's totally unexpected and yet at the same time needed. Kind of gave me some clarity about some things I've been thinking about. Peace and Blessings

MacDaddy said...

"I've even learned to keep loving people in spite of things that may happen, especially when there are underlying factors that aren't apparent on the surface."
CurvyGurl: Well stated. Dr. King constantly preached about "the power to love," meaning the courage to love someone, even though they may have done you harm, or may do you harm in the future. That's awfully difficult to do. At the same time, it seems to be the right thing to do. I wish more of us felt that way. blessings.

judy said...

The quote from Albert Collins gave me chills. And some perspective. Thanks, Daddy.

Stella said...

Anonymous is right. "There are usually no positive consequences to rape, domestic violence -- physical, verbal, or emotional abuse; or the untimely death of a child."

But I hope if all people keep focusing on finding the positive in each situation, maybe those terrible acts will begin to go away. That's not an easy goal, and I know I'm naive, but I'm going to keep moving forward anyway. No criticism intended, Anonymous: you remind us to be kind and understanding to each other.

MacDaddy, I'm sorry so few of your male friends came to visit you while you were sick. I'm not a shrink, but in Men's Health, there's an article explaining that men need to express emotion and "are not as emotionally articulate as women." That, combined with many people's fear of hospitals, might be a reason. Just a guess.

Anyway, I thought of this song when I read your post,

They want us to join their fighting
But our answer today
Is to let all our worries
Like the breeze through our fingers slip away...

When you're moving in the positive
Your destination is the brightest star

"Master Blaster"
Stevie Wonder