Recently, while discussing something or other with a long-time friend of mine, I made an off-the-cuff remark. Something so typical that I don’t honestly even recall what it was. But her response, I will assuredly not forget. Very matter-of-factly she replied: “Yeah, but that’s because you’re a pessimist.”

A pessimist.

The words hit me hard. It was like finding the corner piece to a jigsaw puzzle. Suddenly things started making a lot more sense.

A pessimist.

I wanted so badly to argue. To refute her analysis. To advocate myself as a shining beacon of hope and positivity. But, when it comes right down to it… I have no argument. I have no retort. I have no ground to stand on.

I am a pessimist.

This isn’t to say I think of myself as a bad person, or even a depressing person to be around (for the most part). I laugh and dance. I smile and take joy in many things. I revel in the beauty this world has to offer. I love with my whole heart.

I guess I’ve always just considered myself a “realist.”

 

Planning for the worst, working on contingency, and never expecting miracles. But the glass must either be half full or half empty– it’s not just half. And, to be completely truthful, when you show me a half glass of water, I’m most likely to say it’s half gone.

So. I am a pessimist. A doomsdayer. A nay-sayer.

In this day in age– this era of instantaneity, with a 24 hour news cycle and live streaming from the other side of the globe– it feels difficult to optimistically project a future. War, pestilence, and oppression abound– and maybe that is, and always has been, the human condition. But our wars are no longer fought with sticks and stones; spears; or even simple guns. The reality reflects a planet at the mercy of egotistical apes. Take that evolution.

Americans, meanwhile, are hell-bent on self destruction, as distinctly evidenced by our celebrity culture. Our perverse infatuation with not only watching, but encouraging those in the lime-light to make all the wrong decisions has reached a critical mass. Countless “celebrities” over the past few decades have lost everything to overindulgence. And everyone sits home and laughs while stuffing their faces with foods we know are killing us. Because, as I hear casually stated far too often for my own comfort, “everything gives you cancer!” Excusing away our own bad behaviors is much more simple when we can compare them with the self-negligent behaviors of others. Drugs and binge drinking are not healthy, casual sex is extremely risky, and laying in a tanning bed is FACT: bad for you.

The glamorization of morally and questionable decision-making does not bode well for our society. Gen Y, grasping desperately for idols, comes up somewhere between Lindsey Lohan and Charlie Sheen– a tragic drug addict promoting himself successfully as an “unemployed winner.” Our culture of shameless excess is beginning to repulse me.

For much of my life, I touted myself as merely cynical. I’m realizing now that perhaps cynicism is just a symptom of an entire worldview. A helplessly dismal perspective on the universe as a whole. And I see, in the discouraged faces of many of my over-educated unemployed peers, that I may not be alone in my outlook. While I cannot speak for a whole generation, it does seem undeniable that Gen Y has quite the uphill battle ahead. Toward what end, there are no guarantees. Our culture’s self-depricating, overtly cynical sense of humor bears the brunt of harsh reality. Mama bear always says– you can either laugh or cry.

Most of the time, I am more than capable of coping with my emotions. While my initial reactions tend toward sheer negativity, I balance it out in my head. I know not everything is as bad as it initially seems. But I can’t fight that instinct which jumps to the worst case. No sooner has an idea has been conceived in my mind, than I’m on the “what if” committee throwing out disaster scenarios. Tossing monkey wrenches into the dream works.

Call me reality police.

I wake up every morning and live my day in fear of the “other shoe dropping.” Good things, in my perspective, never come without the bad. The bad is often worse than the good. Everything ends. And everybody dies… Depressed yet?! Sheesh…

Not too long ago, I read quite possibly the most beautiful and inspirational thing I’ve ever read. A fact I have been obsessing over since learning it. Billions of years from now– after the sun has flared up, incinerating the planets and unhinging our universe as we know it– the gaseous ball will cool into carbon. At the end of relative time, what was once the life-providing center of our galaxy will overzealously destroy everything it sustained, then proceed to lay dormant for eternity– forming a gargantuan diamond at the heart of our solar system.

The sun ends it’s glorious life as a diamond. For whatever reason, this brings a passionate spark of hope to my pessimistic little heart.

Shine on.

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Bleeding Out

May 17, 2010

Unless you’ve been in an underground vacuum chamber for the past month, you have no doubt seen/ read/ heard about the “oil spill” in the Gulf Coast. I am not going to regurgitate or dramatize a bunch of already paraphrased information. This “oil spill” is not a little puddle or leak. This, my friends, is an utter environmental catastrophe. Plain and simple.

The numbers are all over the charts– from conservative estimates provided by invested parties, to the ominous figures scientists and environmental groups are purporting– but even the lowest guesses are absolutely STAGGERING. BP, the company with the most financial investment (not to mention responsibility) in the disaster has estimated approximately 5,000 BARRELS A DAY, GUSHING into the ocean. Scientists and engineers are estimating the actual volume to be 10 times that.

To put it in perspective, well-educated individuals across the globe are estimating the scope of this “oil spill” to be the equivalent of the late 80’s Exxon Valdez catastrophe EVERY FOUR DAYS.

Multiply that by the fact that this pipeline has been GUSHING for nearly a month now, with no foreseeable conclusion.

The way I am seeing this, and I could be totally off base, is that the world, much like the human body, has a number of systems. In the earth, there is oil. Crude oil is essentially a waste product– thousands of years of mineral breakdown. The oceans are the veins that pump our planet’s blood. Full of life and driven by currents, they keep water, the blood of all existence, in constant global circulation. The ocean and the oil reservoirs are naturally separated, and with good reason.

What happens to a person when their kidneys, or appendix, rupture?

Am I way out of the ballpark in my analogy? Perhaps. Science isn’t necessarily my area of expertise, and I have never made that claim. But when I watch the video footage of this pipeline pumping oil into our ocean– a home for millions of species; the source of all life– I feel something inside me ache for the planet. I feel her groan. And I know that I am not alone. A lot of us are feeling it. Call it mana, call it the force, call it whatever you will; the connection between all living things has been disturbed. The global energy is at an unrest.

We are watching our Earth mother bleed out on TV.

Relevant reading materials:

Just How Much Oil is Spilling into the Gulf of Mexico?
Worry That Oil Spreading into Major Ocean Current
Coral Reefs Tainted by Oil Spill
The Daily Show– Who’s To Blame [video]