“Keep your face to the sunshine so you cannot see the shadow.” — Helen Keller
When I was seventeen years old, I chose this quote as my senior quote in high school. Did every school have senior quotes in its yearbook? I don’t know, but we did. I liked this quote, and it sounded pretty good to me — profound and all of that other good stuff a person feels at seventeen. Now I am twice that age and I think, now all of these years later, it is funny that this quote still resonates with me.
I was talking to someone recently about the idea of finding the positive. She was talking about how sometimes people focus so much on the positive rather than coming to grips with being okay with the okay or even the bad being just bad. She shook her right hand in the air and said, look this is positive, this is positive, this is positive. And she put her left hand to the side and said, see how we are ignoring the left side. Is focusing on the positive making us ignore the regular?
I thought about it. I don’t want the positive to be inauthentic, or false. I don’t want my positive to be a big, fake, showy show. I want it to be real. However, in times where I am not feeling so positive, isn’t it better to work on finding the positive rather than wallowing in the negative? Fake it’ til you make it…don’t people say that sometimes? Is that what Helen Keller was talking about? If you are always looking at the bright side, then you are not looking at the negative side? Was she encouraging people to be optimistic or commenting on the way that people ignore the shadow? I don’t know. I like to believe that she was encouraging optimism. I like to believe that she was encouraging people to find the positive. I like to think that my seventeen year old self was into that idea, even way back when. And, I like to think she kept that idea with her until years later when she really needed it, and, to this day, continues to strive toward it, and aims to pay it forward.