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Happy Pessimist

John W. Pinkerton


I'm the happiest pessimist who ever lived---well, maybe not “whoever lived,” but close to it.

The morning after being rejected in my appeal to the school board  of an evaluation by a lying co-worker, I went to work with a smile on my face and hope in my heart.  While chatting with the principal, he commented, “I don't see how you do it,” alluding to my cheerful demeanor.  I just shrugged my shoulders and went on with my day's work.

What I didn't share with him was the fact that the action of other people seldom if ever have much effect on me.  I guess that's part of the reason I'm at heart an optimist. 

I learned as a little fellow not to expect good behavior by most folks.  It seems to be that folks just aren't inclined to do the right thing.  I attribute this fault to their own beliefs that they are wonderful human beings put upon by an unfriendly world.  Ha!

What a misreading of themselves and the world!  First of all, I figured out at a young age that there wasn't much to me.  I mean, I was okay, but no great shakes.  It took me several grades before I figured out why we all got together each day to sit in desks.  It didn't seem natural to me then…nor now.

As for the world, I don't consider it unfriendly.  More like it's a little fractious, and one needs to be careful or some natural or unnatural  phenomena might crush you or drown you or strangle you or kill you in your sleep.  It's just the nature of the beast.  God is no fool: He gave us free will and realized that He had better keep us busy dodging death and looking out for stuff which might come out of nowhere to dash all our hopes.

Folks think way too highly of themselves today.  Maybe it was teachers and parents trying to elevate their self-esteem that has caused too many folks to overestimate their value and the value of their “beliefs,” which are often not “beliefs” at all but  a way of thinking which places themselves in the center of the universe.  Ha.

A fellow on Facebook once chastised me for not having the same opinion that he held and suggested that I would be so embarrassed by the future that I wouldn't be able to live with myself.  I laughed and told him that if proven wrong, my response would be to laugh, shrug my shoulders, and move on.  I am not the center of the Universe.  I don't even live next door to the center.  I live in Somerville, Texas, where not all the women are strong, not all the men are good-looking, and not all the children are above average.

I wake up each day expecting bad things to happen…in the world and to me personally.  I get up and get on with the work that I'm capable of getting on with.  It ain't complicated.

Many years ago I had an epiphany that I am not immortal and that no one was immortal.  This should give those who think they are the center of the universe a moment's pause.

Understanding the framework in which I live and its unpredictable nature has allowed me to be both pessimistic and optimistic at the same time.  When I awake in the morning---after first figuring out where I am---pessimism sits upon my chest.  I then take a moment to figure out what my plans are for the day and optimism begins to course through my veins.  My optimism is fighting against a current of pessimism whispering, “It ain't gonna be as easy as you think,” and, I'll be damned, it seldom is, but I make it through the day, sleep, wake, and start the process over again.