Monday, November 30, 2015

30 november



NO: Excessive apologizing

I’m sorry. It just happens. It just seems like the right thing to do sometimes.

Dented your bumper when you parked in the garage this morning? I’m sorry.

Broke your favorite mug? I’m sorry.

Your dog is sick? I’m sorry.

That girl who sits next to you will not stop giggling? I’m sorry.

You speak in an unclear or vague fashion and I can’t understand what you mean? I’m sorry.

My constant apologizing annoys you? I’m sorry.

Yeah. Sorry about that.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

29 november



YES: Optimism

It’s probably ridiculous to believe that the right outcome (at least according to you) will always happen, no matter what. It’s na├»ve, sure. If you don’t train at all, how can you expect to win the race? If you don’t study, how can you hope to ace the test? Sure, maybe everyone else will forget their sneakers and you’ll win by default. Maybe you’ll realize that you have somehow memorized all of the content and the exam will turn out to be a breeze. Maybe.

The kind of optimism I’m talking about, though, is not that foolhardy reality-denying kind. The kind of optimism I’m into is the kind where someone can look the facts full in the face and consciously believe that the most positive outcome is fully possible. Miracles? Not so much. The hard work of people, more often. You know the saying, like the harder you work the luckier you are? Or something like ‘we create our own luck’? Of course there’s the Edison quote: "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” He has a lot of them that tie in here – “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” “If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” Literally.

Optimism is not merely the opposite of pessimism. Pessimism is a black hole. There are enough pessimists around to destroy the power of the sun, were they all to focus their lack of belief in the same direction. It’s gross. Why do those people even get out of bed in the morning? They know that there is nothing that can be accomplished, no matter what anyone tries to do. There’s not enough time, enough money, enough political capital, enough space, enough energy, enough psychobabble to make anything happen. Ever. At all. The end.

Optimism is simply saying yes. Yes, it is possible. Yes, we can try. Yes, we will do what we can. Optimism is not idiocy. Optimism is powerful.

There’s plenty more to say on that, but you get the idea. I believe you do. I’m pretty sure you’re at least some degree of optimist. Pessimists don’t need to read books. Why bother? Efforts at self-improvement lead to nothing. Humor isn’t as funny as the author thinks it is. Science and history and all that – who cares?

NO: Apathy

Pretty sure you already saw that coming.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

28 november



Now let’s focus on quality.

I want to create. I want to create good things. I can’t create good things if I don’t create anything.

Did you ever do syllogisms? Those overlapping circles, seeing which people or subjects share which characteristics? Interesting. Here the entire circle of creating good things would exist within the circle of creating anything.

I also loved logic problems. Solving them, yes, was very satisfying – finding, for example, that Mr. Johnson lived in the blue house with two windows and played the trombone and owned a dog and that Miss Anderson lived in the yellow house with three floors and played the flute and owned no pets. Everything in its place. Beyond the matching, though, I also loved the tiny little universes contained in each. The soap operas created when Mr. Johnson fell in love with Miss Anderson and wanted to marry her, but discovered that she was allergic to animals and that his beloved husky, Rupert, would have to go were they to live their happily ever after together. The questions of how Miss Anderson ended up with a three-story house when she was unemployed. Was she really allergic to dogs, or was she just jealous that Rupert had been a gift to Mr. Johnson from his first wife, and therefore decided he must go? I loved these facts, and the potential stories

Remember in elementary school or so when you and your friends would play games to decide your future? HOMES was one of them, I think. What did that stand for? House. Mansion. Shack. What were O and E? Office? Elementary school? Anyway, it was a series of categories that would tell you where you would live, how many kids you would have, what your job would be, and of course, who you would marry. There was nothing like that certainty of seeing all the other options get crossed off one by one by a steadily counting and confident friend wielding a rainbow-erasered pencil of fate. Now your fate would be decided. That is, unless you ended up sitting with a different boy on one of the red benches at the lunch table. Sure, you could argue that it was just a mix-up in the lunch line that forced you into this rearrangement – after all, your best friend Courtney was sitting next to you on the other side, far across the between-bench abyss and sharing an orange bench with Cathy from mathy. But really, that’s how fate works.

Ahem.

Can I tell you something?

I have a lot of goals here. Some of them relate to quality. Quantity certainly helps, though. That’s why I brought coffee with me.