The other day (well, technically, the other night) I left my survival job in Tribeca, started walking downtown to the nearest subway station, and saw two lights shooting straight up into the sky where the Twin Towers used to be. I had almost forgotten that this September marks fifteen years since 9/11.
I then went home, went to sleep, and had a dream about an ex of mine where we were still in love. And as much as I intellectually understand that I don't, I still woke up missing them.
So today I want to talk about emotional wounds that haven't quite healed, and keeping a positive mindset through them.
I used to think that being sad had artistic meaning. I would almost seek out heartbreak, thinking that made me a better artist. The thing is, not only did I not create anything meaningful when I was going through that phase, I barely created anything at all. And it's certainly problematic when I want to do a comedy, or tell a story with a happy ending, if I'm convinced that being sad is the most meaningful state. We all feel sadness in our life, but the problem is that it can be a very all-consuming emotion if you can't control it. When I'm happy, I can still remember what it is to be sad, and I can feel it in my work, but if I'm sad, it's hard to remember what it is to be happy.
A major caveat on this: I'm not talking about clinical depression here. That is a whole other animal, and it can't be changed by choosing to have a positive outlook. I'm talking about dealing with something that sucks in every day life and choosing to wallow in self-pity and not do anything about it, not problems with brain chemistry.
I'm generally a pretty positive person because I choose to be. I like to look on the bright side, because it makes me more productive, it makes me a better actor and writer, and it makes my life better overall. But sometimes when I'm reminded of something upsetting, I get what I call "a case of the sads." And I'm still not sure what the best way to deal with it is.
On one hand, I think that sometimes you just need to let it run its course. Listen to "All I Want" by Kodaline, think about that person/event/place, eat some ice cream, and just be sad. Something I've learned is that sadness can be an activity, and if it needs to happen, then that's okay.
But also, sometimes I have stuff to get done. I have work to do, and I can't do it as well if I'm sad. And I still don't know how to make that happen.
Maybe it's just because I'm in my twenties, and this is what life is right now. Sometimes the sad things in my life just demand to be felt.
And I kinda think that might be the answer right there. That "pain demands to be felt." (Thanks, John Green.) It doesn't have to be all-consuming. I can see the memorial lights for the Twin Towers, but still appreciate how beautiful Tribeca is, be excited for my upcoming travels to London and Edinburgh, and know that there is good food in the world. Maybe it's that keeping a positive mindset doesn't mean being happy all the time. It just means looking for the good most of the time.
That's my answer for now, anyway.