Friday, 26 February 2010

Smile or Die

The answer to the question that I set myself is yes, this week at least.  I'm writing for a living.  I got my first commission to write something for a magazine and it pays a weeks wage.  Of course I was happy (its what I've been working towards after all) but I've noticed some strange things about myself as a result of it.  The most significant is a kind of superstitious paranoia.  I thought about naming the magazine on here but then I thought that if I did and the feature ended up getting killed, I'd end up looking really stupid and no one wants that right?   Which means that I've somehow got to the point of thinking what I write here in the blog would have some influence over future events, which is of course plainly ridiculous. I've been reading about a similar sort of thing recently in a book called Smile or Die by Barbara Ehrenreich.  The tagline to the book is 'How Positive Thinking Fooled America & The World'.

As someone who is naturally cynical, I was drawn to it.  Someone suggested I read this book called 'The Secret'.  You might have heard of it.  Its a compilation of various theories of positive thinking from what you might call self help books.  One of the major theories they put forward is 'the law of attraction' which suggests

'that you can have anything you want in life by focusing your mind on it.  The universe exists to do your bidding if only you can learn to harness the power of your desires.  Visualize what you want and it will be attracted to you.'

as Ehrenreich herself summarises it.  The obvious answer to this is that there are an awful lot of people in the world who, for example, probably visualize having access to clean drinking water.  The reason why they don't have it, according to the law of attraction, is that they just don't want it enough.  Rhonda Byrne, the author of 'The Secret' stated that disasters like tsunamis can only happen to people 'who are on the same frequency as the event'.  In other words, they brought it on themselves.  You're probably getting what I think about 'the law of attraction' and 'The Secret' by now.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a positive thinker - I'm definitely the glass half full bloke.  I think like that because I have travelled.  I've seen beggars in India with grotesquely out of proportion limbs through elephantiasis.  In the same country I saw a yellowed corpse surrounded by flies dumped by a river, probably there (I was told) because the family couldn't afford a proper burial. Maybe it was more sinister.  I was told not to go the police in case they tried to pin it on me and extort money.  So I know that I'm lucky by comparison.  Food in the fridge, roof over my head - life is pretty good.

But to get back to the (frankly bizarre now I come to think of it) point, I've had to write the blog this week to convince myself that what I write here does not have an influence over the events of the universe.  Actually last week's blog proves it.  Kimberley Walsh has not been in touch.

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