by Leonard Bishop
I intend to fulfill a New Year’s resolution that is based on a long-standing cliché. But, like many clichés that were once refreshing wisdoms, they should be reprised and the wisdom revived. Beware of self-fulfilling prophecies. If I can sustain this resolution, the remainder of my life will make sense, and be successful. I never realized I was a self-causing depressionist until I saw how other people caused themselves depressions.
One morning last week, when I woke, my first sound was a despairing groan–my first statement was,” This is going to be one long and lousy day.” And I was right. Every hour was a deploring exhibit of what anxiety, irritation and self disgust can do to one person. Whatever I did became a procedure of failure. All my pleasant intentions–to be loving, kind, considerate–became a meanness that forced people to avoid me.
I had no justifiable complaint, no excuse for blaming other people for my state of feeling. I had brought it upon myself. From the moment I awakened. “This is going to be one long and lousy day.” Diligently, I worked to prove I was right. If the day had turned out well, I would’ve been miserable. I would’ve wondered what had gone wrong.
So much of our time is guided by the unhappy clichés we utter, revealing our deepest, secret attitudes. If something good happens, we are afraid that an admission that it is good will jinx it. So we comment,” It can’t last,” or” It’s too good to be true.” If we gain an unexpected opportunity, we say,” I’ll never be able to do it,” or” I’ll probably mess it up, the way I always do.” We awaken with a sense of gloom–and direct ourselves toward a daily doom. Most of us are afraid of the day that opens for us. We hope for a marvelous future, but we dread tomorrow. We place an intense spotlight on how inadequate we believe we are, and keep the knowledge of our constant competence in the shadows. Hourly, we exaggerate self-doubt and diminish self-appreciation. Because we experience some confusion or dilemma, we immediate believe we are helpless and our lives are futile. We are comfortable with self-condemnation, and to try trusting in ourselves causes us grief and palpitation.
We are so edgy with worry for what others think about us that we begin to dislike people even before we meet them. Our interest in being liked by everyone is so anxious, we never pause to consider if they are the kind of people whose favor we would enjoy. We compromise, subsumed, and concede personal values in fear of being exiled from social stratas that are sleazy and without values.
Well, I’ve had enough. I’m going to stop believing that the people I respect are more intelligent, talented and deeper than I am–and respect them because of what they are–not because of what I believe I am not. And I won’t care if my nose is large, if there is a blemish on my skin, a bulge over my belt, or if I’m not tailored as meticulously as an English butler. Since I do not earn my income posing for magazine covers, why be anxious about not being a handsomest of men?
When I awaken tomorrow I will say,” Thank God for the marvelous day ahead of me,” and live the day in pleasant expectation rather than anticipating horrible problems. I will do this every day until the sensible attitude replaces the dumb habit of preparing myself for daily doom.
It is no lie, no hype, no self-induced trance into a brutal delusion that is easily shattered. I am a sincere person. I do have accomplishments. There are people who like me and there are people whom I like. If I need help, I’ll ask someone to help me and not be ashamed that people think I’m weak, or worthless. If someone asks me for help, I’ll help him and not be suspicious that I am being used, exploited, or mocked. I am a good person.
I am a good person, in fact. I know how to love, to laugh, to work, to give. I’m so strong within myself that if someone hurts me, abuses me, or damns me, I will survive. I will survive and not feel sad that that person has overlooked my value in his life. I am an experienced person. I have lived through illness, family death, poverty, disappointments–and have gained wisdom. I can give all of myself to anyone and still have more of me, for others. The only one I have to be afraid of is the ruthless enemy within me, trying to pull me down. He’s an enemy, so old within me I cannot know where he came from, or why I let him in. And I no longer care. I am more certain and greater than he is. Back to hell with you, enemy. “This is going to be one long and loving year!”
Yes. Come on, New Year. I stand naked before you, with my arms fully opened. Dress me, fill me, cover me with your glorious blessings.
(first published December 29, 1985 the Manhattan Mercury)