Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Positively Languid 

Before Peloton.
“C’mon people! Let’s go! Let’s do this! You got this!”
- insanely inspired Peloton coach
Am I the only person who finds those Peloton ads actually make me less likely to subscribe to the service? Part of adulthood might mean doing boring things like work or paying and filing taxes but it also means I’m not a child being scolded by teachers, librarians or life coaches. Is there something from my upbringing or childhood that means I would rather push a bullying fitness coach off their stationary bike than put up with their relentless, vociferous positivity?

Why am I so put off by cheerleading? It is annoying but that seems like a universal truth rather than a personal insult. I suppose it’s my own skepticism that makes such an approach seem entirely performative and thus, wholly disingenuous. Am I too cynical to be cheered on by someone paid to cheer me on? I used to wonder about myself, “Am I a pessimist?”, but I don’t think so. I used to say I’m a realist but I think that’s something pessimistic people say to not sound so negative. Rather, I think I am an optimistic person but perhaps I fall on the dark side of optimism. What is the dark side of optimism? Is it like the dark side of the moon, always in shadow and cold beyond imagination? Or is it just the cautious, chill, relaxed view that warns you to not get your hopes up in case everything goes badly?

My father once asked how I did on an important exam. I said I was hoping for the best but expecting the worst. He did not care for the answer or the attitude. I maintained then as I do today that I did say I was hopeful but I was also prepared for anything that might happen and was planning for what to do next. In that particular case I thought the exam went well but being unsure of the outcome I was ready for whatever result came my way. After all, if I had been super-confident that I aced the test, then the examiners probably made the exam too simple or maybe I was overconfident and would not be ready for a surprise. I can be optimistic but shouldn’t wear rose-coloured glasses and imagine everything going my way. In fact, in the back of my mind, I always imagine some contingency for other possibilities. To this day I believe that having any kind of reasonable forethought involves thinking ahead and picturing many possibilities. Positive outcomes tend to be simpler to plan for while negative ones mean making some tough decisions. The most difficult things to plan for may even be the ones that are neither positive nor negative which can make indecision feel like a decision.

All this may sound like I’m pitching some mediocre middle management solution but for me, it’s a bit of a lifestyle choice. Being negative all the time will leave you stuck. Being overly positive feels like indulgent naivety. Being hopeful but having nuanced expectations feels like being level-headed and calm. This still doesn’t explain fully why I find "super-awesome-positive" vibes so incredibly insipid and stupid.

On the other hand, there is a remote possibility that an overly positive attitude actually is insipid and stupid. I hope I’m wrong but I expect I’m right.

Apparently I'm not the only person who finds Peloton ads annoying. Thank you SNL - I feel seen.

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