Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Accentuate the Negative

Recently, I met the most delightful woman through my work. She was witty, spiritual, clever and interesting despite the fact that she is preparing to leave this world. Over the course of 3 hours, I heard only positive words leave her lips-she really had nothing bad to say about anything, even her pain. On my drive home, I pondered her grace and lack of negativity and wondered why more people (including myself) don't seem capable of an outlook like hers. I've been thinking about my negativity for awhile now. Why is it that now that things are in place, and I can live a fuller life, I find myself waiting for something bad to happen? I've felt this way for a month now-as though I'm afraid to be happy.

As I drove, I thought about my recent knitting. With lace, I've been delving into the negative. The whole project began with negative thoughts: "oh, I can't do this. It's way beyond my skill level," and has moved into negative spaces. Since Sunday, I've been battling this beast of a project and have finally found a little zone where I'm comfortable without all of the doubt nipping at my needles. You can't create lace without negative space, can you? Somewhere along the line, you realize it's the absence of yarn-or negative space- that makes the lace pattern leap out at you. Without holes, it would not have interest. Can you see the flower in the center created by negative space? Interestingly, you wouldn't have a pattern if you had no positive spaces that are filled with yarn-like the spirals in this piece that grab your eye.

So is negativity necessarily bad? Or is it something that we need in life to provide contrast and balance?


WT said...

Negativity in the form of pragmatism isn't a bad thing, it helps keep you from suffering too many disappointments. Negativity for negativity's sake is like a cancer and will ultimately consume you.

Jadekitty said...

It's all in the balance of negative and positive. Both are necessary. I love the flower in the center, the lace is coming along beautifully.

SkippyMom said...

The lace is absolutely gorgeous.

I do notice, no matter how upbeat a post is you regularly have a slightly offbeat, not so complimentary comment to make regarding it - I just figured that is you.

I don't necessarily agree that negative and positive are needed to balance - and the woman at the beginning of your post illustrates that. She is the type of person that has stayed positive her whole life, I am sure.

I am not saying people don't have neg. thoughts - it is just a proven fact that positive thinkers and those who laugh live longer.

And that lovely lady DID give you something to think about, eh?

Cynthia said...

What a clever piece of writing, Rudee. I agree that the negative space allows the positive to be clearly defined but now I'm lookiing at the space as neutral gaps where all of the potential is possible.
Here the metaphore falls apart (in my own writing): Isn't it in the messy transitions that unexpected positive outcomes are realized?
I also have known a 90+ year old woman, Polly, who had the gift of seeing the positive. She was a beautiful spiritual person who spent her life creating beautiful environments for other.

She was a professional interior decorator...and we talked for many long hours about her life and her projects.

Thanks for reminding me of the gifts she gave me. Love to you <3

Rose said...

That is a beautiful piece of lace. Interesting analogy about positive and negative space. I'll have to ponder it for awhile. I do know that a therapist told me once that the feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop is usually a symptom of someone who's a survivor and/or has post traumatic stress syndrome. Is that just psycho-babble or could it have some basis in reality?

Betty Flocken said...

Hey I'm there Rudee! Negativity adds balance to the naive young girl falling in love with someone she doesn't know. TOO much is a bad thing. I agree there's got to be balance.
I hope soon you'll enjoy your new life. I've found in 57 years that even good changes can cause a mild depression.. I try to forbid negative changes - but doesn't work. That's a beautiful piece of work there.

debra said...

Negative space is an important design element, both in art and life, I think. It challenges perceptions, and changes the weight of things. Not a bad thing at all...

Brenda said...

Your experience with this lady probably just grabbed your attention like it would for most of us. Those kind of people are a rare breed. They are the ones that we remember because their aura makes us feel good. I think we would like to be like them or wish we could be around them more often to "Catch" some of their vibes and have them rub off on us.
That is just what I read into your post.
I think you have been under stress for longer than maybe you realize, with Rachel needing so much extra care, and now you are having trouble relaxing or allowing yourself to.
And here lies the "amateur analysis" of an old broad. Just had to get my 2 cents in.
The project you are working on really fits in with your thoughts in your post.
Have a great day Rudee!

Rudee said...

WT-negativity for the sake of being negative is the perfect description of my father in law.

Jade-I think it's a balance too.

Skippy- This woman was probably one of a handful I've met who couldn't/wouldn't ever voice a negative thought. Given the circumstances of our meeting, she was indeed unusual.

Cynthia- "Isn't it in the messy transitions that unexpected positive outcomes are realized?" Yes!

Rose- I feel exactly as though I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. In my mind, it's as though the fates will strike me down if too much good should happen. Survivor? I think I am. It's been a long, long haul to get to where I am today. I've got to shake the What's Next feeling.

Betty- I've always tried to go with the flow-sometimes kicking and screaming all of the way. Maybe a little grace would help. I'm incapable of thinking only positive thoughts, though I am capable of feeling positive at times.

Debra-I agree completely.

Brenda- as usual, you are very astute and I'm appreciative of your insight.

Stephanie V said...

Your lace is beautiful. That's a positive outcome.
It must be very difficult to be positive all the time...but it's a worthy goal. My heroes are the Dalai Lama and the Aga Khan who continue to work towards the positive. It's not that they can't see, or experience, the negative but it contributes nothing to their ongoing philosophy.

Long comment but your post fit in with some of my own thinking in the past few days.

Miss 376 said...

I was thinking the same as Brenda, you've been through a lot recently. So glad you seem to have got the hang of this lace, the pattern is coming together nicely

Rositta said...

Your almost making me want to start a project like that. I have the book and there are a couple of shawls that are enticing me. It's my negativity to charts that stops me in my tracks. Someday I will overcome...ciao

Rudee said...

Rositta, if you enlarge the pattern enough, you can make notes in the squares-for instance if you have a long block of plain knit squares, count them out and in the first block, place the number you need to knit before you get to your paired increases and decreases. The ones in the cap shawl seemed easiest of all. They're all paired-a yo with a k2tog decrease and I count those pairings too so you spend little time looking at the chart and more time paying attention to your knitting.

BTW, not following your advice about working the shawl and watching hockey last night, I had to do a bit of tinking. Duh. Next game, I'll only play with socks while I watch-plain ones.

Sandy said...

well...I've always thought since our planet is one of polarity, when we only want the positive the negative is going to show up right on the heels of it ...and vice versa...What my goal and intention to do before my life ends, is wake up to acceptance of both so I find a balance and scoot right up vertically to the place of no judgement, no time, just an everprsent now ....hahahah, listen to me, like I know anything, hehe. I'm goofy..

Snowbrush said...

My wife's a nurse, and she used to knit. Then, she discovered the wonderful (and I thought cheap) world of collecting clothing buttons. Now, the dogs and I seldom see her. It happens in the best of families, I suppose.

Rudee said...

Aw Sandy-and it was sounding so good there too.

Snowbrush-I don't know much about collecting buttons, but I could see how it could become a problem.

Kathleen said...

Brilliant, Rudee. Yes, of course, negative space is necessary to one's art--and life. How boring would it be without it? I marvel at your insights.

Lisa L said...

Random thought re: your positive patient...for 17 years I've met several hundred hospice patients...some of whom I wish I'd met 20 years ago..and known them as friends.. because of their awesomeness, their outlook on life, their amazing personalities...Its a grieving, in a way.. to be a hospice nurse, and to wish you'd known these beautiful people for alot longer. ( and not in a hospice situation..)

delphine said...

Rudee, I popped in before taking my break, and found your post thought provoking!
I think we are all leaning towards the negative one way or the other! Perhaps it is a form of self protection, like if you expect the worst, then it lessens the shock when bad things hit you? as long as you can recognise that in yourself then that is fine, and you will work things out!

distracted by shiny objects said...

Reminds me of some of the patients in the AIDS Clinic who felt that they had been given a blessing when they received their diagnosis because they appreciated so many more things about life. Not much use in waiting for the other shoe to drop there once the whole closet has fallen in on you. I really tried to adopt that attitude, but sometimes I'm just grumpy and nervous about what is yet to happen.

laurie said...

i agree with WT. also, i'd add that people who are constantly cheerful get on my nerves. everything in moderation. even happiness.

NCmountainwoman said...

The lace work is absolutely gorgeous!

I struggle to differentiate between skepticism and negativity. I certainly have a large supply of skepticism, but I don't really think of myself as a negative person.

I do believe that people who have faced a huge crisis in their lives change to become much more positive about things or (unfortunately for some) much more negative.

Winifred said...

That lace is lovely the colour is gorgeous.

I think some people are just born that way, full of the sun.
Some days the sun doesn't shine for me no matter how hard I look for it. Others are sun filled, I don't know why. I had a friend who sadly could never see the sunshine, every day was dark. Maybe it's a physical thing not just a state of mind. I find music always helps me.

I love your postings Rudee I don't think they are negative, just realistic and often very funny too. Keep them coming.