Other Side of Inspirational quotes

Creative Corner

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Inspirational quotes make me gag. I’ve blocked more than one friend on Facebook who clutters my news feed with pictures that are nothing but differently-sized font that says stuff like this:

Excuse me while I pop a couple Tums; I get heartburn when I write crap like that. (And don’t get me started on the “Share if you…” posts. If you share a “share if you” post, you show that you are easily manipulated.)

Usually there is some truth to these quotes. But what is it about trite sayings that makes me snort with derision and roll my eyes at the same time?

“Live life with no regrets.” I’ve heard this one before. It sure sounds nice, doesn’t it? “So, do you wish you hadn’t tried heroin?” “Oh, I like to live life with no regrets.” How lofty and noble, but how impractical. Regret reminds us not to repeat past mistakes. Of course we should not dwell in the past, nor define ourselves by it – but regret has a very important purpose!

“You can do anything you set your mind to.” How inspirational! You already know I’m being sarcastic, so let me soothe the burn by admitting this: Perseverance is the only way to get somewhere difficult. But it’s unfair to say that perseverance will always get you where you want to go. How many times should you “try, try again” before you’re diagnosed clinically insane? How about a reality check? I’ve always wanted to run a marathon, but a lesion on my spine keeps my legs from functioning very well. Have I given up on my hope of running a marathon? You batcha. I have new goals now – challenging goals, but within my non-negotiable limits.

“Sing like no one’s listening; love like you’ve never been hurt; dance like nobody’s watching, and live like it’s heaven on earth.” I get it, Mark Twain* (or Samuel Clemens if you’re a smartass). Find your inner child. Don’t worry about what other people think. And how do you accomplish this? Pretend. Pretend that you don’t have a past with hurt in it. Pretend like you’re living in paradise instead of this sad place full of rape and starvation. Put your fingers in your ears and yell “na na na na na” because, after all, you’re supposed to sing [like no one is listening].” Let’s be real, Mark (Sam). The sooner you learn to accept that sometimes life really sucks, the sooner you can heal from your hurts, move forward, and deal with the crap that comes your way.

(For futher snark, see “Shoot for the Moon: Five of the Worst Inspirational Quotes Ever”, from “The Website for Irish Women,” and I’m not even joking.) http://www.her.ie/life/shoot-for-the-moon-five-of-the-worst-inspirational-quotes-ever/

What is it that really bugs me about “inspirational” quotes? I think I know – but it took me a while to come to this conclusion. Am I just super pessimistic? Do I want to “go against the grain” and reject society’s advice? Is it my English degree that balks at clichés?

Could be…but maybe it’s because these quotes are too simplistic to represent life. Sure, they are applicable at certain times, but life is messy. Let’s tell the truth:

Henry David Thoreau: “Men are born to succeed – not to fail.”

Valerie Bertinelli: “Happiness is a choice.”

Having a positive attitude about life first requires accepting the negatives. Feel the disappointment. Grieve. You’ll live through the hurt, then realize that you survived.

*There is debate about whether Mark Twain originally penned this.

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Muhammad Nasrullah Khan is a Pakistani-Canadian writer. His short stories are well-recognized internationally for his unique prose style, and really naive innocence of rural life of Asia. His short stories Donkey-Man and Only Nada Lives were nominated for the Story South Million Writers Award. Enlivened by the stories of great English and Russian writers, he has taken a pinch of fact and a cup of fiction to weave an embroidered creative work of adoration, trust, and agony in his stories. His work has appeared in Adbusters, Evergreen review, Indiana Voice Journal, Newtopia Magazine, Gowanus Books,Offcourse literary Journal University at Albany, The Raven Chronicles, and many others.

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