dreadedcandiru2 (dreadedcandiru2) wrote,

Hoop-yah, indeed.....

Although I've gone on record as not being all that enthralled with the later years of the strip, there are still strips in it that have value. Take, as a for instance, this failed attempt by Elly to adopt a positive outlook on life. When you remember that the strip is the saga of a woman who can never seem to see the good things in her life, it seems to fit that even at the end, she's still the same gloomy person who never figured out why she was so miserable all the time she was in the beginning. What Elly (and since all of her characters are her, Lynn) never seems to have learned is that the human brain is designed to focus on the negative. While Lynn clearly seems to want to turn the issue into something of a joke about childhood drama, it's simply human nature to let praise and happiness wash over you and focus on that one person or one situation who made you feel like crap. Taking it easy and being a mellow dude didn't use to be a survival advantage so it's fairly safe to say that pessimism is encoded in our DNA. We know this but Elly doesn't. She also doesn't realize that trying not to think about the things that upset her only makes her focus on them more and make the situation worse. Her chronic worrying about her life serves only to place distractions in her way; were she not to focus on all the horrible might-bes, she'd get more done. However, to do that, she'd have to abandon the one strong emotion that makes her feel alive and, worse, face uncertainty. There are too many risks involved and anyway, it seems to her that happiness is a farce because she doesn't feel it right away.

This last is what's really telling. While the phrase 'the pursuit of happiness' means something that isn't pursuing being happy, the very idea that happiness has to be pursued baffles and angers Elly. She seems to believe that happiness means not doing the unpleasant things willed on her by others than doing things she likes so tends to spend her down time feeling miserable and confused, never knowing that nirvana's just another word for sitting on the couch feeling pointlessly upset. Since Elly is sort of clueless, she doesn't realize that she's happy when she's doing things that please her because, as I said, she can't remember when she's actually been at ease with the world.
Tags: elly versus herself

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