Happiness Is…

I know it’s a terrible cliche, but the saying you find what you look for is nonetheless an enduring truth. If you are looking for happiness, counting your blessings, making that effort to smile so others will smile back… you will find joy, silver linings, and camaraderie.

I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was twelve, and it was my Uncle Mark who watched me for a little while, then came up and told me what I was doing wrong. You’re looking at your pedals and worrying about falling over, he pointed out. You have to look up, look where you’re going, and trust your body to find a balance. It’s been years now since I rode a bicycle, but I know that feeling of the wind in my hair, and mostly, triumph at finally managing this feat of propulsion, will never leave me. Had I been unable to let go of those fears, I could never had made the ride happen.

Yesterday I wrote about message fiction, and the inherent nihilism rampant in current literary fiction. My comments sparked Nicki Kenyon to blog on the related mentality of why the same people who want to force everyone to agree with them that the world is a dark and dismal place.

 It’s the lazy way out.

That’s why they promote suffering as a virtue.

See, it’s too hard to overcome actual challenges, to work through your pain, to bust through those barriers and become a functioning, achieving human being. So instead, they choose to put that responsibility on their audiences. You must find beauty in their ugliness. You must find virtue in their misery. You must see the light in their gloom. They need not do the work to show it to you. Hell, they don’t need to make any effort to overcome it. You must love their oozing sores simply because they’re oozing sores and pretend they’re virtuous and good, while they rub that pus in your face. And if you can’t or won’t, you’re a hater and must be exposed as such.

Hiding woman art
She’s shy, or ashamed, or grieving… Or she’s waiting, watching a sunset, looking at the stars…

This is the same group of people that promotes the concept of microagressions, and the culture of victimhood – to the extremes that there are cases of people pretending to be severely disabled, just to gain this coveted mantle of victimhood. A woman sat in a tech conference and overheard a joke about a dongle, and tried to get the joker (who wasn’t speaking to her and didn’t know she was there) fired. If you are looking for something to be offended by, you will find it. If you want to find racism, you must first think like a racist… Larry Correia dissected an article claiming that HP Lovecraft should be removed from science fiction, and he pointed out time and again that unless you were looking for it, you won’t see it. And he included this, which is perfect on-point for what I’ve been talking about.

Nobody is stopping anybody from any particular group from reading or writing. In fact, we’re all encouraging as many people as possible to read and write. The more people buying books, the better! If you’d like to write toward a particular audience, fantastic. DO IT. Just don’t demand that other artists create art only in your approved manner.

I once reacted with horror to a small publisher who proclaimed in public that he was going to keep a list of what ‘groups’ his authors fell into, and sort the authors by that. Can you imagine? What if a publisher decided that women authors can’t write real science fiction. Romantic science fiction, sure, but not hard SF. No, this publisher says, what women are really good at is Fantasy. So that’s what I’ll let my women authors write. Can you imagine that? Because it’s really happened in the past. This guy, running a small press, was basically saying that he was going to deliberately and methodically discriminate against his own authors. He was looking for the bad, rather than focusing on the writing. You get what you look for. Now, none of his authors will ever know if they were published and promoted for their merits, or for their physical characteristics they have no control over.

It’s a pitiful time when we have come to the point where a smile is an act of aggression instead of friendliness. Where a rave review of a book has to be based on race/gender/sexual orientation/buzzword of the day rather than the real strengths of the work itself. Where disagreement becomes an act of hatred. Where disapproval is just flat not allowed.

Where is the happiness? Where is the constructive side of this, the ‘how to’ make life better, stronger, more worth living? Instead, it’s ‘live this way, say what I tell you to say, and keep up, because it’s not the same as it was yesterday and I will denounce you if you don’t.’

What if we all looked up, and into the future? To see beyond the petty fears and concerns here, now, and into the vast “what if?” that lies before us. Would we be able to move forward, a smile on our face and the wind in our hair, exploring beyond any imagination’s reach? What if we ignored the superficial and wrote fiction that fed the soul and nurtured curiosity? What would happen then? What if…

Oregon night sky
To the stars… and beyond. (photo taken in the High Desert, Oregon, by Cedar Sanderson)

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