Don’t Know Why You Say Goodbye; I Say Hello!
Although, for the most part, our household is an oasis of accord and unity, there is the occasional moment when MichaelMyLove and I are fundamentally and diametrically opposed. He is a pessimist and I, most emphatically, am not. In literary terms, I am Tigger and Michael is Eeyore. He believes that thinking the worst is the same as planning for it; I am convinced that planning for the worst is the same as causing it.
J: “Isn’t it delightful that the winter has been so lovely and mild?”
M: “I suppose so… I bet it means that the summer will be too hot.”
(Some of you in the studio audience may recognize yourselves in this conversation. Were you J or M? It’s okay; I love you either way!)
Most conversations end (and some fights begin!) with the call-and-response, “What if it rains / there’s no parking / they’re sold out / we’re too late”, answered by “Oh, I’m sure it won’t / there will be / it’ll be fine.” But I have always held that, as default settings go, mine, upbeat and cheerful and hopeful, is much the better, simply because it is upbeat and cheerful and hopeful. I’ve only very recently realized that what is irritating is not the mindless pessimism or the mindless optimism; it is the mindlessness. I am too prone to say, “I’m sure it’ll be fine” without having the slightest clue if it will be or making any effort to ensure that it is. Michael is too apt to say the opposite, but to do the same. The trick would seem to be in talking less and doing more… don’t all my voyages of self-discovery land on that same shore? Ooodelally, a rhyme! How exciting!
We have found poster-children for our respective world views. Michael’s is Nouriel Roubini, an economist who predicted the current crisis and who, unsated by his vindication, continues to predict more and worse crises at every turn, is one of our favorites. His demeanor is so morose and his speaking and writing style is so bleak that he is unintentionally hilarious (the fact that he is always right is beside the point). His 3 most recent articles in Slate are entitled, The Fear Premium, Four Reasons To Stay Gloomy About The Global Economy and Don’t Believe The Good News… I swear, see for yourself! How can you not love him? And read the articles; they are hilarious, as aforementioned and also make good sense.
Mine is Chris Traeger, a fictional character on Parks and Recreation who is the most relentlessly positive and upbeat person in the world. He looks like this… all the time…
This is the man who, when told that he needs to relocate to a town in Indiana where the cows outnumber the people 40-to-1, responds with a sincere, “Sounds amazing!”. And he’s right! You might learn something from the cows! When you lead a life of extreme privilege as I do, nothing is so unpleasant that you can’t make an effort to enjoy it or at least to learn from it. Don’t mistake me, I have always found repellant the idea that people can be redeemed by, and therefore should embrace, suffering or drudgery; I think that this is a lie to keep poor, oppressed people poor and oppressed. However, I can and should apply this attitude to my First World problems. Need to do the dishes (that I chose and own), walk to the store (on my own feet), write 5 medical summaries for clients (who need my help), respond to emails and phone calls (from friends who love me), wake up too early (to go to work)… put the right way, it does… It does sound amazing! Roubini and Eeyore may be right, but even being wrong will not be so bad, provided I do it like Tigger and Traeger.