Blackbird Esteem

I’ve never been one for things like ‘resolutions’ or ‘resolve’ especially in the contrived way that we are expected to renew ourselves in the dead of winter each year. The timing of this is all coincidental, so even though this isn’t me writing about my resolution, it might as well be.

By now, the entire world has seen the video of Chris Picco playing Blackbird for his dying infant son. I have seen it several times, and have yet to get through it without at least tearing up a little bit. There is something very sweet and pure about it while simultaneously being one of the saddest things I’ve seen in a long time.

I can’t begin to imagine the devastating impact losing your wife and newborn within days of each other has on a person. I have no idea how you recover from that, how you keep living. I seriously doubt my ability to do either in those circumstances.

So here is where the pseudo-resolution comes into the picture. I’m cynical by nature. Hating things is one of my oldest past times.  And I’m really, really good at it too, which makes it an enjoyable thing for me.

My entire book is an exercise in gleeful misanthropy. The process of writing, marketing, and selling my work fueled my cynicism until it became the primary aspect of my personality. This proved to be problematic in many ways. My relationships with others suffered because I was being overly negative or so sarcastic it was impossible to take me seriously. Work sucked. Everything pissed me of. I didn’t enjoy many of the things that I should.

Negativity coiled around most of my existence, and did its damnedest to squeeze the life out of it. I don’t know what the opposite of the color rose is, but I had a very thick pair of those colored glasses permanently affixed to my face.

Then I saw the Blackbird video, and I wept.

I cried for Picco, singing his grief away. I cried for his son and his wife. I cried for myself and what I had chosen to be. I want to cry now just thinking about it.

The reality is that my life is amazing. I have a wife that is beautiful, smart, funny, and an amazing mother. I have an insane toddler that is just about the funnest baby in existence, which is something that you can’t prove wrong since you can’t objectively measure ‘fun.’ I’ve got a loving family, a nice house, and a reasonably stable career. We have it better than at least 90% of people on Earth. Despite this, I focused most of my energy and outlook on the small things that were not exactly as I would like.

Being cynical is an old and effective coping mechanism for me, and many of my generational peers. It protects us from failure. It shows that we are too cool to be phased by something not going according to plan. If I don’t care, and I fail, then I can easily cite my lack of caring instead of acknowledging any shortcoming on my own part.

As though not giving a shit is somehow better than trying and coming up short…

We actively dismiss and disparage a large percentage of things, even things that we allegedly enjoy. The driving force behind this is the flawed idea that if I diminish the value of everything, then my value increases by default. Cynicism is the plate and mail of my postmodern brethren. Sarcasm our expertly forged blades. We armor ourselves against anything that may reduce our feelings of self-worth…because we are afraid.

We are cowards.

I am a coward.

In December, when I saw the Blackbird video for the first time, I made a conscious choice to shed my armor and be genuine. I’ll probably end up with a few more scars to show for this choice, but my existence has already become happier and healthier. This is a trade I will gladly take. Scars add character, they give you a story to tell. They mean you’ve seen some shit, and have some perspective.

I do this for myself, but also for my daughter, because I was very clearly reminded by Chris and Lennon that not everyone is as lucky as I am.

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4 comments

  1. Reblogged on Rixlibris. Thanks for pointing out a difference between “coping mechanism” and an outright retreat from personal responsibility. As Joe Louis once said of Billy Conn (look them up), “he can run but he can’t hide.”

    Liked by 1 person

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