I’ve been dreading this piece.
For two weeks I’ve seen this coming, and yet here I am 2 A.M. on a Wednesday in front of a blank Google doc.
I’m tired….I haven’t packed....I’m leaving tomorrow….I haven't even done any Christmas shopping. I’m probably not going to get to sleep for another hour, plus I have to wake up early and clean my car for my Grandma. I have to burn a few CDs for the ride too, although I can't really listen with my Grandma in the car…“Don’t worry Grandma, 'Trap Queen' is actually about Victorian England”...I’m going to need so much coffee. Crap….I’m out of creamer...Shit……
Besides, who is going to read this anyway? Everyone is already on vacation. Everyone's brain is already mush. They don't have the power to read it more than I have the power to write it. I’m basically already talking to myself at this point. What am I going write anyway? My year was a piece of shit. I’ve been sick, stressed, poor and tired. Nobody wants to read that. I just want to be on break. Fuck this.
Negativity is contagious.
Negativity is so 2015.
All of the above is true. I really do have to clean, pack and burn CDs that I can’t listen to (because Grandma), but let’s take a step back. Yes, I have to clean a house. I share one with two other guys and a dog, but rent is cheap and I’m comfortable. Packing my clothes includes my Action Bronson t-shirt that I love, a Dilla sweatshirt and my new Jordans. I also get to help my 95-year-old Grandma into that car. She may be 95, she may need a little help, but she’s in great shape for 95. I get to go take her, my clothes, and my brother to my parents house where we will have food, beer, more food, and some gifts. Also, I do need coffee, but there’s at least six Starbucks less than five minutes away. Maybe it's not all that bad. I feel better already.
Negativity is easy, but it’s bad for you. It’s easy to immediately jump to a kind of bad that covers you in a fog. Don't get me wrong, you certainly can't be happy all the time, but there’s a balance.
Well...there should be.
Too often I’m too negative. I’ve been dreading this piece because I had a rough year, or at least I thought I did. Talking with Rapsody about all her wins this year got me thinking about my own. In this supposedly “shitty” year, I went on a road trip where I got to swim in water that had literally just melted from the top of a Wyoming mountain and had life changing tacos a few days later in San Francisco. I got to see Jay Elec, Oddisee, K.R.I.T., Rapsody, Common and T-Pain at NPR. Oh and PRhyme--they were so fucking good. I got to write about a lot of these artists and get paid to do it, all while wearing my pajamas. The same company that let’s me take two weeks off to fuck around in the woods also pays me to write about dope shit in my jammies. It may not be glamorous, it may not make me rich, but it keeps my ears full of music and my tummy full of Chipotle. That's all I really need. That’s a pretty good year.
I should focus on all those blessings, but it’s hard. It's hard to be positive when we spend our days engulfed in negativity. We are conditioned to shut down, dismiss and shit on. A quick scroll through Twitter, Facebook or any comment section is evidence of that. Complex ideas, deep thoughts and sensitive subjects are boiled down to strawman memes designed to divide and rile up. Every racial slur, political attack and put down means someone's page gains more clout. Negativity is a sickness and symptoms come in the form of clickbait, Twitter wars and anonymous animosity. What stands out, what gets shared, is overwhelmingly negative because negative is easy. People are drawn to it, rubbernecking the carnage and the mayhem that’s soon to follow. We revel in Twitter beef or go nuts when someone's headed to prison. That’s the stuff that gains our attention, the bad. Meanwhile, a story about someone using music to help heal communities or how 2 Chainz has become a leader in hip-hop activism goes woefully unread, unshared and undiscussed. These stories are not good for the bottom line so editors and content producers pick sensationalist, pessimistic topics because it’s those topics which bring in the eyes and the money. It's a vicious cycle. It must be stopped.
What if we lived in a world where instead of obsessing on the negative, we emphasized the good? We all have a responsibility to lift up what we like, but we all focus on the negative whether it be rap related or real life. We get mad at people for not knowing our favorite rapper or not liking that exact same album we like. We look at what other people have and shit on our own blessings. It's our own Little Shop of Horrors monster. The more we feed into the bad, the more we spend our time and energy on the bad the stronger it grows. It prevents us from seeing the good, which is definitely not good.
So let’s be more positive in 2016. This might sound like flowers, puppies, and candy, but fuck it. Flowers, puppies and candy are actually all pretty great things. I'll undoubtedly at least occasionally feel negative, after all I'm human, but I really am going to spend the next year working to focus on the positive.
Hope to see you there.
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is College Dropout but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]