On Positivity, Poetry, and the Future

I’ve spent a lot of time in 2016 reflecting and introspecting, enduring months of self-analysis during sleepless nights blurring into sleepwalk days. Prior to June these thought processes often proved to be fairly self-destructive, and on discovery each new reflection felt a little like a step backwards. After living as a devout pessimist for the better part of twenty years it can be hard to break out of that cycle consisting of the constant assumption that most aspects of self carry some sort of negative implication once uncovered. It was never a particularly healthy way to live, day to day.

I used to think that my negative outlook on life kept me grounded, but I realised over the last few months that it was keeping me too grounded, and in doing so was preventing me from allowing myself to truly feel positive. I’ve never been a particularly positive person, or at least, I’ve never considered myself to be. I couldn’t say where this bleak outlook on situations stemmed from, which is a shame, because I imagine that if I could pinpoint it then it would’ve been easier to move past it. Maybe I listened to too many sad songs in my early teens, and as such I went into adulthood listening to those same sad songs, and coming to adopt that melancholic outlook on life as a result. I probably came to see pessimism as the norm, as a way to gain clarity by looking at something from underneath it, casting light from the shadows – because the shadows were the spaces I was occupying. I think I used to enjoy going about life that way, expecting the worst and remaining pleasantly surprised when something good would come around. Expecting failure tends to make the successes matter more.

That was prior to June though, and the last few months have seen a shift in my mental stance, almost exclusively for the better. I’m probably still not a positive person, at least by definition of the word, and thinking about it I’d prefer to use the phrase ‘realistic.’ There was always something unrealistic about the way I expected days to go, because that was my perspective on reality at the time. My reality was reluctant: I don’t think it is anymore. Four weeks from now I turn 22, and I think there’s a point at which it isn’t constructive to be looking for the bad situations and hoping for the best out of them. I don’t want to be 22 and be a bummer when I’m around people, on edge about what might end up going wrong, when in fact there’s little guarantee that it’d be an eventuality. Eventually, you have to make a change, and start seeing the glass as half full instead of half empty. My glasses were always half empty, and upon realising that they were I normally downed them pretty quickly thereafter. I like to take my time now, savour situations instead of antagonising over them. I’d prefer to laugh in the face of a problem then let it consume me. I’d rather look for silver linings than accept the cloud and it’s ensuing rain. Part of that realization came from travelling around America and realising that there was a lot more out there than what I was simply allowing myself to see through tinted glasses. Part of it is still an ongoing process, which seems to be all the more positive day after day. It was something that I had to set in motion, an awakening of sorts, and now I’m enjoying the benefits of that outlook. I’ve found its easier to enjoy myself, to enjoy where I am and who I’m there with. The sad songs don’t seem as sad anymore, and when I listen to them I hear the voices of people escaping through music instead of wallowing in it. I used to wallow a lot. Those same songs now, at 21 going on 22, seem to suggest that I’m not that sad anymore. They suggest that things aren’t that bad, and that they never really were. Now, I can listen to a downer of a track and notice the distance I stand apart from it. Granted, that isn’t always the case, but I’m able to gain that focus a lot more than I used to.

I talk about sad songs, and from there I go into sad poetry, of which I used to write in abundance. I liked to emulate those sad songs in my work, because for me, they were the most effective way to convey something to a reader. I stand by my opinion that melancholia can be healthy, can be uplifting and enlightening, and in turn I consider sadness to be the most profound of emotions – the most affecting, the most convincing. Recently however, I’ve found that I’ve been relying on it less in my writing. It used to be a trope of my poetry, of my prose, of anything I set my mind to. I frequently bummed people out with poems about death, about distance, about some sort of emotional disaster on my part. Even the reviews on this site tended to rely on it to a degree, I spent a lot of time writing about it, and appreciating it in the music I featured. I think that’s why my output on this site has slowed to a halt pretty much, and it’s because I don’t really know how to write about emo records with the new outlook I’ve felt myself unburdened by. I’ve tried every now and then to cobble something together, but it’s not as easy as it used to be. I don’t take the same things from the songs; I can’t relate to them on the same level that I used to.

At present, I see all of this as nothing but a good thing, a step in the right direction. However, I also can’t see what it means for this blog going forwards. Four years ago, when I started this site, I was at what was probably my lowest point, and that pessimistic outlook had all but consumed me – no silver linings in sight. So I started writing, and it felt like a positive change, something productive that could give me the purpose I greatly lacked at the time. CraigReviewsMusic wasn’t really a hobby, and I never really qualified it as such until recently. It was a full-time commitment which kept me occupied, a permanent distraction which rolled around one record at a time. I don’t feel that compulsion to review anymore. I still feel it to write, but to write different things. I don’t need to find ways to be positive anymore, because I’d currently occupying a state of mind where that search isn’t necessary. I’ve moved past it.

So, the future looks bright, and it’s probably a future which won’t really involve craigreviewsmusic.com anymore. I’d like to think that I’ll put something together every now and then, I see no reason not to, but my motives have changed as the years have gone by. I’ll devote more time to poetry perhaps, because I expect I’ll always be writing, over at craigwritesthings.wordpress.com instead. I’d hope so anyway. Regardless of what the future does hold, I’m glad that I’m able to approach it the way I’ve been motivated to during these last months, keeping positive and anticipating the good instead of the bad.

Thanks for reading,

Craig (who sometimes reviews music)

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