“I guess I just prefer to see the dark side of things. The glass is always half empty. And cracked. And I just cut my lip on it. And chipped a tooth.”–Janeane Garofalo.
As long as I can remember, I have been a pessimist. I have justified it to myself on the grounds that if one expects the worst, one will never be disappointed. However, I can’t pretend that it’s a wholly rational impulse. Quite the contrary, it seems to be an instinct.
More than just pessimism, what I have is a kind of superstition about being confident. I always have this feeling that if you get confident, you’re asking for karmic payback. It’s like the idea of hubrisin Greek tragedy–I feel like you’re tempting the Gods (metaphorically speaking–I don’t believe in the ancient Greek Gods) when you get to feeling good about yourself.
Some people are always cheery and expecting the best. I’m not sure who’s in the majority, but I suspect it’s the optimists.
Not that everybody is all optimistic or all pessimistic. I have a friend who is always pessimistic about her favorite sports teams, but is in general a fairly optimistic person. I like to think I’m pretty realistic about stuff I have no control over, but anything I’m actually doing myself I feel sure I’ll screw up.
Incidentally, I think pessimism is what enables me to read old-time conservative writers like Spengler and Nock. Despite being opposed to their politics, I recognize in them a gloominess that I can relate to. We all feel that the world is going to hell, even though we have different reasons. Spengler felt it was because of decadent liberalism, Nock was upset because he thought the State had too much power, and I think it’s because people are unable to resolve their differences through education and intelligence, but we all would agree that things are bad.
How about you? Do you feel that “a sunny disposish will always see you through“, or do you feel, as I do, that if your spirits are soaring, it means only that they will hit the ground with more force?