30 March 2008

LOVE HATE Relationships

Our society spends a great deal of time complaining. Looking for and finding, in abundance, unsatisfactory and easy objects for whining and criticizing.

As I sat down to scramble and try to avoid missing another month’s blog posting, all I could think to write about involved gross quantities of complaining and lamenting. Easy targets kept filling my heads: people, men, adults. The possibilities were incessant. You'd think I was packing for a trip to Bountiful.

However, as much as I love hearing myself talk about life’s unfortunate bits, or reading back over my own rants, I have decided to betray my default loyalties.

A good number of years ago, I opened a new, stiff blank book and began fashioning a list of things I love. And I mean “LOVE.” This is an exclusive club. It was so much easier than I thought it would be. I started with the predictable and grand, then it quickly snowballed into specific, random and long buried passions.

Being the person I tend to be most days however, my mind could not help but wander behind enemy lines, to the list of things I hate (and I mean HATE!). So, I flipped to the back page of the journal, turned it upside down and began another list.

Surprisingly, the list of things I HATE is less than a quarter the length of the list of things I LOVE. This was quite a moment for me. I have always leaned toward a cynical, skeptical, negative, caustic, sarcastic mind-set. But there, the truth lay before me, in blue and white. There were more things I loved, than hated. I would never have guessed. And probably most people who knew me at all, would also, never have guessed.

My suspicion is that even though the list is shorter, the HATE list weighs far more. I may LOVE lavender, Crosby/Stills/Nash & Young, clogs, Christmas lights and artichokes. But the sum total of these does not outweigh my HATE for dry, hot weather. That’s a 5:1 ratio. Or 8:1, if you count the members of CSNY separately.
(NOTE: The individual members of CSNY do not make the LOVE list on their own. It’s a ‘sum of the parts’ kind of thing. Seriously, how is it that Neal Young can blend so wonderfully and perfectly with the voices of Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and What’s-his-name Crosby, but then sound like fingernails on a chalkboard to my ears when I hear any of his solo stuff? It reminds me of my son and his feelings for French toast versus scrambled eggs. Life is a mystery)

At last count, the ratio was 167:57. LOVE:HATE. But the HATE things are big, fat, overwhelming, fundamental things. Where as, the sweet, pretty LOVE things are small, peripheral, less-than-earth shattering type things. The sentiment ‘LOVE is in the details’ is apparently quite appropriate in my life.

A random sample of my LOVE list reads as follows:
#110 Ankle bracelets
#46 Bing Cherries
#5 The Book of Esther
#158 Side B of Abbey Road
#42 Baths

While my HATE list tends to read like this:
#50 Indecision
#2 Stale Air
#34 Anxiety
#20 Having to repeat myself
#3 Clutter

(NOTE: My lists are in no special order, certainly not in order of importance. Lilacs are number four on my LOVE list, but that does not mean that is the fourth most loved thing in my life.)

The thing I notice here about the lists, is that the items on the LOVE list are much more within my control than the items on the HATE list. Seriously, how much power do I have to affect traffic, air quality or the economy?

I suppose if I were looking to learn something from this exercise, it would be that I should surround myself and fill my life with the things I LOVE: candles, scarlet red, Scotch on the rocks, pink peonies, Dr. Seuss books, songs that make me want to dance, dancing and Cary Grant movies.

Among other things.