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My daughter goes to a Rotary Youth Leadership Conference in high school.

"How was it?" I ask.

She sighs. "Way too positive."


"It was so positive that there was NO critical thinking. If I started to say something that needed to be discussed or improved, I was scolded for not being positive."

"Ick. That sounds dumb."

"It WAS dumb. I stopped talking by the third group activity."


"Yeah. I just endured it." She smiles. "My evaluation of the conference was NOT positive at all."

I laugh.

But that is a problem.

Right now I have two gentlemen of my acquaintance advising me to be positive and let go of negativity.

I am oppositional defiant so this makes me clutch my negativity even tighter. And anyhow, they both tell me that I should do whatever I want. Well, I wanna be NEGATIVE right now and then POSITIVE when you guys aren't looking, because you keep contradicting yourselves and telling me what to do AND telling me to do whatever I want. What MY INNER DEVIL wants to do is WHACK you boys with a HELLO WHY ARE YOU BEING STUPID AND CONFUSING stick. Meanwhile my inner angel is arguing that the devil is overreacting, as it always does, and my inner devil is responding that she is a fungking model of self control because she hasn't even looked for a stick and anyhow a stick is not a baseball bat.

Then the two of them brawl like soccer fans or sailors on leave or sumo wrestlers or kickboxing championsor little old ladies with tongues like knives and sharpened knitting needles and I sit there and try to keep a straight face while I once again get lectured to be positive and mansplained on why I would be better.

Noted, one doesn't want to hear about my whacked out professorial maternal fambily any more. That request is now granted.

Another friend calls for help having done a really dumb thing involving travel with a minor that I said was really dumb the last time the friend did it. The friend wants my help but I am not willing to lie. I study the situation and write a letter, but not really the letter requested because I dang well am not willing to perjure myself. The friend had better not do it a third time because I won't help that time. The friend has people they could call more directly involved but the friend doesn't want to because, well, I don't agree with the subsequent reasoning. I loose the slip knot of the devil a little. The letter is NOT what the friend wants but it has no lies, take it or leave it.

What the positivity gurus don't get is that if you bottle up the devils, they get pissed off. Then when they finally escape the bottle, WATCH OUT!!!! Ya gonna be HELL ON WHEELS when they are in control. Ya will do something you will regret. The thing is, the devil part of us is just as satisfied with imagination as with really doing something. Actually it may be MORE satisfied with imagination because then it can REALLY RAISE HOT AND FIERY AND VOLCANIC HELL and no one needs to know about it except you. And if you really let the devil part scream and rage and be a brat, the angel part gets activated, says it's an overreaction, says the devil is Mean and Not Nice and then they fight. Practice this in front of a mirror until you can have the whole internal sequence play out without anyone knowing... this is why the buddha laughs....at least, that is my current working theory. I have always wondered why the buddhas laugh in spite of all the Bad Stuff in the world. The buddhas have embraced their own devils and let them rage around in their mind and all they have to do is not show it on the outside....

Go ahead, positivity gurus. Tell me what to do... and meanwhile my devil is laughing at you.