Cupcake Farting Unicorns Will Beat the Zombies


I’ve always been a cynic, the one in the crowd who’s always waiting for the other foot to drop.

I’d like to say it’s because I simply have no faith in humanity, but I’m pretty sure it has more to do with the gremlins in my head. It’s like the experts say; when you find faults outside yourself — be it in people, experiences, or things — it’s often more of a reflection back on ourselves.

It takes a whole lot of work for me to be optimistic and hopeful. And I’m not speaking to toxic positivity, in which people become a shimmering unicorns who fart cupcakes. No, I’m talking about being able to go about my day and not automatically assume it’s going to be the worst day ever (okay, so that’s a bit dramatic but there’s lots of days when that’s my mindset).

The amount of energy I must expend to coax myself into trusting today will not implode, that I won’t ruin my children’s lives in a single bad-parent move, and that my life (despite it’s mediocre looking exterior) is more than okay, far exceeds the amount of breath you had to use to read this very long run-on sentence.

But the effort is well worth the exhausted evenings and the nights of take-out because the truth is, there’s more good than bad in this world (Mister Rogers said so, and everything Mister Rogers says is probably true).

The problem doesn’t lie with the evils that plague this planet, though there are many. It’s with my willingness to see the world, my world, through more than a pin hole, shrouded in a doomsday filter (you know, the one with the zombies and the plumes of smoke, and the structure fires smoldering in the foreground).

Because for every parent-fail, there are two (or more) wins. I just don’t tend to “count” them, and that’s just bad math. If zero can matter, the ignored parent-wins need to matter too. For every meal when I’ve had more potato chips than salad, there are four other meals when there were no chips at all. And for every day that I sit down to my computer and let the gremlins take over my confidence, there were three days that I was on a roll.

Maybe it’s human nature to hold onto the negative (I think I read that once). An archaic survival strategy, we bank away the negative to protect ourselves from future harm. Thanks amygdala. And that’s a solid strategy, if we’re exploring potentially poisonous foods, or if something wants to eat us. But negative bias has it’s limits and if you’re anything like me, the past 17 months have made my negative bias extra trigger happy.

I know I said I’m a natural cynic, and I will likely continue to be. But even as a cynic, I understand the uselessness of seeing the world through a zombie apocalypse filter for too many months in a row. It’s time for me to change the lens. To switch to the cupcake-farting unicorns, for a little while, even if they make my lip curl.

And it’s not because the very real challenges our species is currently facing have disappeared. We must continue to work towards racial, political, and gender equality. Global climate stability cannot be reached without diligent and tangible shifts in the way we live our lives, and people who are suffering in real and painful ways must be offered our support.

“To the cynics I say, ‘Change your lens. Celebrating what’s right is not a perspective that denies the very real pain and suffering that exists on this planet. Rather it’s a perspective that puts those problems into a larger more balanced context. A context, when we can see, that there’s far more right with the world than there is wrong with it.” — Dewitt Jones, former National Geographic Photographer

But hope isn’t about fixing everything that’s broken right now. It’s about playing the long game. Trusting that progress comes from small deliberate shifts. Hope, even for doubtful cynic, is what we all hold onto, whether we want to admit it or not. Because at the end of the day Mister Rogers is right. Dewitt Jones is right. For all the ails of the world, ails that have presented themselves in different forms throughout all of human history, the helpers are still out there. Flowers still bloom, babies still take their first steps, and behind most masked faces there still exists a smile.

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