In a recent post on the brilliant BrainPickings.org, founder Maria Popova added a new entry to the things she’s learned in the ten years she’s been editing the website:
Don’t just resist cynicism — fight it actively.
I was happy to be reminded of this. Cynicism, pessimism, nihilism, and an ironical dismissiveness that makes fun of anything sincere or earnest run rampant in today’s society. “Feel good” stuff seems more ripe for “Saturday Night Live” parody than serious delivery. And rightly so. Once meaningful phrases like “Love, Heal, Inspire,” “Be Here Now,” and “Thankful, Grateful, Blessed” have been bastardized, commodified, reduced to T-shirt slogans.
But despite this yoga and juice culture overuse, and despite the 24-hour news cycle, there is indeed much to be grateful for. We are, after all, above ground. We have chocolate fudge brownie ice cream, and supermoons, and YouTube clips of nine-year-old Australian girls landing perfect 540s on large half pipes. As surfers, we have quiet moments on the water that are something close to sublime.
“Much of my work involves chaos and struggle and challenges,” my friend Christian Troy, Executive Director of Waves For Water, told me. “I find my peace place in the sacred grounds of the ocean. All the elements coming together—saltwater, sun, the pulses of the sea—it rights me.”
Best of all, at least as far as I’m concerned, we have synchronicity. The writer Geoff Dyer told me about the time he and his wife picked up a “clean and not looking like a maniac” hitchhiker on the side of the road in New Mexico, only to pass a sign a minute later: “DO NOT PICK UP HITCHHIKERS / DETENTION FACILITIES IN AREA.” Seconds after that, “Riders On The Storm” by The Doors came on the radio: There's a killer on the road/ His brain is squirmin' like a toad/If you give this man a ride/Sweet family will die. Geoff and his wife looked at each other, or rather tried not to look at each other.
Those winks from the cosmos, those reminders of forces larger than ourselves, that waist-high wave that traveled thousands of miles across the ocean and arrived at your spot on a Saturday morning just in time for you to wheel around and ride it as it caps and peels and ultimately dissipates back to infinity — that’s a lot of be thankful for.