For those among you searching for the ever-elusive font of true happiness, I present to you PinkPoem.com – an online poetry anthology guaranteed to fill you with a “zest for living!” Touchingly, the website creator asserts, “This site is built specifically for you.” Never mind how he ascertained that you, within the furthest reaches of your soul, desired more than anything an online source of mediocre poetry to stir the innermost depths of your bowels. If his prophetic insight into your secret being doesn’t blow your mind, perhaps the content of the site will, which is divvied up according to the emotion it is intended to inspire – thus, the uniquely geared “inspirational poems for optimism!” One must, however, question their efficacy. For example, consider an excerpt from the literarily enchanted “Keep On Keepin’ On”:
“Smile just kinder cheerfully
Though hope is nearly gone,
And bristle up and grit your teeth
And keep on keepin’ on.”
The author ultimately fails to explain why one should bother to “keep on keepin’ on.” It seems to be a rather bleak, unfounded demand. If hope truly is “nearly gone,” to merely “keep on keepin’ on” would seem to lead one down the same path towards perdition. Instead, wouldn’t it be more productive to stop immediately whatever it is one is doing, as it obviously has not been beneficial up to this point? In fact, I would argue that it is infinitely more hopeful to just sit down and give up altogether.
Equally as dubious is the optimism “inspiring” poem, “Be the Best Whatever You Are.” An excerpt:
“If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill
Be a scrub in the valley–but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.
If you can’t be a bush be a bit of the grass,
And some highway some happier make;
If you can’t be a muskie then just be a bass–
But the liveliest bass in the lake!”
We could keep following this path to its logical conclusion, but do we really want to? Will that truly bring us to the desired destination? The author starts off demanding of one that, if one cannot be a tree, one should be the “best little bush” one can be, and if not a bush, then a “bit of grass.” But if not grass, then what? Perhaps the poo out of which the grass grows? If not the poo, then perhaps the cow’s rectum? Perhaps the author’s philosophy can be best summarized as, “Just be happy being crappy.”
The dubious, delusional advice continues in “One of These Days”:
“Say! Let’s forget it! Let’s brush it away
Now and forever, so what do you say?
All of the bitter words said may be praise
One of these days. […]
Flowers are so fresh from the wayside and wood,
Sorrows are blessings but half understood. […]
Say! Let’s not take it so sorely to heart!
Hates may be friendships just drifted apart,
Failure be genius not quite understood.”
Advocating euphemism is a debatably sound strategy in achieving a sunny outlook, but hey – let it not be said we dismissed that which we did not undertake. After all, terminal disease is just an early reprieve, poverty is a life without the complications of excess, unemployment is but a prolonged vacation, homelessness is just a permanent campout under the stars, and losing a leg turns life into one big game of hopscotch. I feel sunnier already.
Further aiding our hunt for the elusive eagle of optimism is the banal rant, “Can’t”:
“Can’t is the worst word that’s written or spoken;
Doing more harm here than slander and lies. […]
Can’t is a word none should speak without
To utter it should be a symbol of shame;
Ambition and courage it daily is crushing;
It blights a man’s purpose and shortens his
Despise it with all of your hatred of error;
Refuse it the lodgment it seeks in your brain;
Arm against it as a creature of terror,
And all that you dream of you some day shall
Hate it, with hatred that’s deep and undying,
For once it is welcomed ’twill break any
Yes, the prohibitions precipitated by that confounded contraction wholly suck the joyful marrow out of the soup bone of life. Strike it from the dictionary, for its aftermath is one of a communist police state: “You can’t jump off that cliff… you can’t shoot your brother in the foot…you can’t eat that poo…you can’t use that tractor to run down your boss…you can’t subsist on Cheetos and Mr. Pibb… you can’t stick that pen in there…”
It is either refreshing or distressing that the optimistic hoardes believe man is capable of self-regulating his actions to such an extent that “can’t” should be stripped entirely from the vernacular. In The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde observes, “The reason we all like to think so well of others is that we are all afraid for ourselves. The basis of optimism is sheer terror.” Then again, can anyone blame a “bit of grass” – regardless of how happy it may be believing it is beautifying some roadway – for being a bit terrified of the gigantic boot hurtling towards its head?