I have practiced cynicism, like a pianist practices scales, over and over. I have practiced being defensive – about my choices and my mothering, my theology and my politics – until I was on the offense. I performed, with repetition, outrage and resentful anger, the victim of someone else’s god, I was jumping, Pavlovian, to right every wrong and defend every truth, refute every essay, pontificate to every question. I called it critical thinking to hide my bitter and critical heart, and I wondered why I had no real joy.
It didn’t take long for my proficiency in cynicism to become obvious to others. My aptitude didn’t take a lot of work, I’ll be honest, it seemed to come rather naturally to me, maybe I was a prodigy. I practiced poking holes, deflating arguments, identifying the pill in all of the jam. My response to it all was, “yeah, but…” and I set up my piano on the border between Funny and Mean, playing sarcastic scales in the name of wit, you might be surprised by how much snark you can fit into 140 characters. And over and over and over again, I practiced and practiced, but no one liked to hear me play.
Give me just a moment here, follow me outside. I’m done with this grand piano, with this glossy stage, with the concert proficiency at Being Right, I’m ready to be Beloved instead. Here, now, let’s head for the Canadian wilderness together, I’ve got just the spot in mind, and wouldn’t you know it, out here, in the sunshine, there’s a battered old thrift store piano, just for me.