I had little love for the “Mad Men” season opener; it was bound to happen. For years, I didn’t care much that these people were mostly dreadful – selfish, greedy, gluttonous. They embodied nearly all the seven deadly sins, but their approach was so stylish and compelling, the husband and I returned week after week to Don, Betty, Roger, Pete, Peggy, and Joan. Last Sunday, however, they lost me. In a series of vignettes not connected in any obvious way, the arcs of their characters appear to have hit permanent plateaus. Betty remains chubby, detached, and obliviously cruel. Don is still a sullen cheater, allergic to happiness. Peggy has become Don. Roger takes up space, and Pete – well, Pete is Pete. There’s not a cheerful one in the bunch.
We’re halfway through Netflix’s “House of Cards”. Kevin Spacey portrays Majority Whip Frances Underwood in a D.C. environment so contemptuous, if it’s anything like the real deal, we all should kill ourselves right now.
Look this way and that – on television, in the movies, at the grocery store, the dog park, Starbucks – and you’ll find cynicism as quickly as you’ll find joy – no, faster. This is nothing new. It’s easier to criticize than compliment. I’m as guilty as the next person, but it wasn’t always this way. My glass is still half full but just and I know why. We feed off each other; our inner curmudgeons win the battle for our souls more often than not. On any given day, I’m going to have ten conversations and six of them will be negative. We’ll complain about Washington, the weather, traffic, our WiFi connection, the job, the boss, school issues, children who don’t make their beds, Washington, wrinkles, parking at Trader Joe’s, bills, aches, pains, more bills, allergies, our ‘inbox’, spam, dust bunnies, acne, Washington, the spouse, the house, the car, red lights, coffee that’s too weak, coffee that’s too strong, leaf blowers, Washington, and the printer (because printers rarely work). Then we’ll complain about those who complain all the time.
Believe me, there are real issues about which we should be upset. But everything else has a bright side, if we’re interested in considering it. Sure, sometimes it’s more entertaining to be Eeyore than Pollyanna, but it can often wear us down, too. I’m sick of being weary.
The husband and I went out the other night and returned home to dirty pots and pans that the girls had failed to clean up after dinner. I was ready with my anger and disappointment until the husband showed me this letter from Miss T:
Silver linings abound.