Is the glass half-full or half-empty?
And there seems to be a crack hidden in its base that’s sucking the remaining liquid from it as I watch.
You’re a smart, reality-based person, or you wouldn’t be reading this. So you have the same problem that I do – which is that all the research indicates that pessimists have a firmer grasp on so-called reality than do optimists. It really is as bad as we think it is, and it’s going to get exponentially worse. That’s the fact, Jack.
So — Would you rather be delusionally happy, or would you rather be right? Yeah, me too.
I don’t know how I got to be such a pessimist. Oh, sure – George Bush. As with the rest of us. But my world darkened long before his evil shadow spread beyond
Perhaps it started the day I realized that I’d probably never be an astronaut, which was my secret ambition when I was 12. Worse, being an astronaut became less cool than it should have been. NASA screwed the pooch when they didn’t make Chuck Yeager an astronaut. Dammit, he should have been the King of the Astronauts. If Yeager couldn’t be the poster boy for space exploration, the world was a dismal place.
I also stayed in a marriage that made Satan laugh, for about twenty years longer than I should have. If I’d been smarter, I’d have just stolen some eggs and created Rachael in a castle tower hidden in the Carpathians.
Pessimists generally blame themselves when things go badly. If I’d been a better, smarter, more disciplined person, the world as we know it would be much improved. If only I could have persevered and built my time machine and gone back and strangled all those bastards in their cradles! You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones who’ve wrecked it for everybody else. It would have kept me busy and happy and productive for a dozen years. And my allergies would trouble me much less today, too.
The weight gain might have been inevitable, though I suspect I could have avoided it if I was a better person. It was a mistake to move to
Here are the two cognitive mistakes that I constantly make, which trigger my worst bouts of pessimism:
- I can’t tell the difference between events that I can affect in some way, versus those that will crush me no matter what I do. It all feels the same, and this completely immobilizes me on occasion, because there’s ALL THAT BAD STUFF that’s unmanageable.
- I focus on the wrong time periods. I experience negative emotional and cognitive internals because I frequently dwell upon the mistakes I’ve made in the past, and fear what’s going to happen in both the near future and the much farther-along End of It All.
Swirl these two bad mental habits together, and it’s tough to even keep looking at the glass. Stephen Petranek’s sorrowful TED presentation makes for a perfect example of the combination punches that can be created with this mix. I just want to crawl off and hide in a culvert somewhere, hoping to avoid the worst. Of course, it’ll rain then, and the culvert will quickly become more than half full.
So, I’m going to try to make some changes. I’m going to focus on issues where I have some chance of at least optimizing my outcomes in an uncontrollable environment. And I’m going to try to stay in the present mostly, and then plan for the intermediate future, right beyond all the terrifying near-term future events that I’ll struggle to survive.
The awful reality is that my present situation isn’t all that bad. I’m fairly healthy, though the cancers and heart attacks are coming. I did refuse to let my former urologist do that unnecessary operation that would have bought him a new BMW, and me a new diaper collection, though I’m sure that day will arrive. I do really, really enjoy riding my Shadow 750 in the bright spring air, though there is a cell-phone-wielding homicidal soccer mom waiting just around the next corner in her black SUV. I have a job that pays me more than I’m worth, though the coming recession will make the 1930s look like Bill Gates’s birthday party.
Even better, we’re on the immediate verge of getting rid of GWB and many of his thug-buddies. Though — well…. *sigh*…. there’s apparently some clause in the Constitution that prevents us from getting rid of all of the politicians while we’re at it. Damn.
So. The Now Time is okay. And I probably can’t prevent stuff like the heat death of the universe from happening, much as I might wish to.
It’s the middle-distance future that I can spend more productive non-pessimistic time contemplating, and perhaps even fake some genuine optimism for. Here’s the plan that Rachael and Jesse and I have worked out. I like it a lot:
If all goes well, I get to retire on a shrunken, but manageable retirement income in about seven years. Yes, I’m that old. Weirdly, I’m looking forward to being seven years older, as soon as possible.
As you know, we’d previously thought about emigrating to
That plan probably would have worked out fine, but it mutated after Rachael became Asatru and I allowed her to become betrothed to Jesse, who is also Asatru.
Rachael will go to school long enough to get her Masters degree in Nursing. This will make her an incredibly desirable immigrant to every country on the planet. Jesse will get a degree in Construction Management, which will also make him a wanted citizen. I’ll be ready to retire about the time they finish school. Asatru is a formally recognized religion in the Scandinavian countries. They’ll move to
As you may know, the Scandinavian countries are among the most enlightened on the planet, with correspondingly happy, optimistic populations. It will be good for me to hang out with these types of people.
My retirement income should help a little with expenses. It’s true that the contract we’ve signed doesn’t have a No Dogfood For Rory clause, as I’d originally thought it did, but we’ve changed the plans for her marriage to Jesse so that he doesn’t have to pay me a large herd of cows at the ceremony, as was originally envisioned. Now, I get to eat the herd one steak at a time, with Jesse doing all the cooking. Therefore, ipso facto, no dogfood in my future.
I’ll take my motorcycle with me, or buy a new one once I’ve settled in, and cruise
There is the ‘Ten Year Rule’ to be respected, however. I’ve promised Rachael to not become Really Close Friends with any female within ten years of her age because it would creep her out too badly. I’ve only recently realized that when she turns thirty-one, this opens up a whole new world of twenty-year-old hot Icelandic rave babes for me.
Many of them are Asatru, and will revel in the company of a man who looks much like Odin, as well as additionally riding a motorcycle that throbs and rumbles with manly power.
Rachael and Jesse plan to have at least six children, maybe more if they’re still having fun. I’ll be allowed to occasionally come into the big house to help raise the little ones, and teach them how and why to play the blues. They’ll be raised Asatru, in a country where they’re most likely to meet other Asatru.
Asatru = Vikings, incidentally, in case you haven’t read my link to it. This will become important later on.
I encourage our entire readership to migrate to
Brad and Barb will probably end up in
As you know, the
I’m optimistic that the
Which is great news for us in Denmark.
This is why you need to come with me and Rachael and Jesse. If all goes as planned, I’ll have four or five more kids with my hot Icelandic babe. There’ll be the grand-kids. Great-grandkids. The Asatru religion is all about self-sufficiency, courage, hard work, and taking care of your clanspeople.
Our clan will be among the best positioned in the world to survive when civilization falls.
It’ll be a more primitive world, and the strong and brave will once again rise. Once more the halls will fill with our songs. Once more the Viking drinking horns, made from the descendants of the herds that I’ve decimated, will be held high as our people’s longboats are launched into a frothing sea.
The day will come, and it won’t be long, when our children’s children will skip across the northern seas, sailing from wealthy colonies in
Our children will sing this song as they joyously loot and pillage in the new dawn:
Yes, you’ve heard this song before. You’ve even seen the video. But you didn’t realize that you could take it personally. You didn’t understand its deeper meaning. Click the picture and, once again, see the future.
You think that this is all a fantasy. You think it cannot happen. Oh, no, my friends, my beloved clanspeople-to-be.
Remember — I’m a pessimist. I have a special, close relationship with reality.
Come with us and make it all be true.