I've noticed that Valentine's Day serves as a pretty reliable barometer of people's perception to the world around them.
Typically, there are two philosophies at play: those individuals who see the holiday as a painful reminder that their life is missing that special someone and those that use the opportunity to either celebrate an existing love or rekindle their hope that, as the classic tune goes, the best is yet to come.
At it's most basic level, these opposing views really break down into a question of cynicism versus romanticism.
There are those people that can't shake the suspicious feeling that the world around them is a dark, scary place brimming with greed, disease, corruption and ulterior motives.
And then there are those of us that choose to focus on all the amazing aspects of life, the existence of which can often be clouded by the indisputable, omnipresent darkness. This group retains faith in the inherent goodness of people, appreciates the seemingly ordinary magic of life and generally grips a hopefulness and eternal optimism that they carry with them no matter where life may lead.
Certainly, there are times when viewing the world through a romanticized lens can become a burden, and one may be tempted to give in to the negative peer pressure and adopt a less idealistic perspective.
Personally, I've often struggled with this and have doubted whether or not my romanticized persona was little more than a facade. Did I actually believe the wholly positive attitude I emoted or was I simply doing my damnedest to protect my sensitive, Cancerian nature from harm?
The answer is... A little bit of both. At a certain point, I know I did hide behind a cheerful demeanor - at least in some circles - as a form of self-denial and a way to keep my true misery masked from the judging eyes of the world at large.
However, the older I get, the more I have come to realize that my true Robbie-ness is in reality strikingly close to the enthusiastic behavior I so fervently flaunted in my adolescence. Of course, like anyone else, I have my moments of weakness and doubt, but I still rely on a romanticized foundation.
So often, I see people around me who seem miserable with their stagnant and unfulfilling lives. They get so caught up in the negative parts of life that cynicism begins to overtake their every thought. Who got the promotion I deserve? Why can't I lose weight? Why is my life so f**king terrible?
It reaches a point where they lose all perspective in life... missing out on the people who love them, the little miracles of life and all the good fortune they've seen... until any shred of their child-like sense of wonder and amazement at life, love and all that entails is diminished to nothing more than the tiniest speck of light in an overwhelming darkness.
The more I think about it, the more it saddens me, but in this life, there's really only one spirit we can control: our own. So, despite a million reasons not to, I continue to rely on my light-hearted spirit to guide me, whether or not the people around me accept or recognize it.
Because, when it comes right down to it, that's all I have in life. It's literally taken me years to reclaim this attitude and I have no intention of ever letting go of it again.
And, if my positivity somehow brightens up someone else's soul even a little bit, then I've done my part to make the world a better place, nudging romanticism that much further in it's never-ending struggle to overtake the cynical milieu that has a strangehold on our society.
Happy writing and living,