Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Question

     If you hadn't figured it out by now, Company, part of my daily rounds of the information world is the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online edition.  Not that I don't like the paper proper, I do, but I don't usually have time to read that large of a paper every day.  Plus, where I live, that particular paper doesn't usually arrive until the next day, so the news is already out of date.  Plus, the online edition has like a blog that sort of tracks breaking news as the day goes by.  And it has a bunch of other exclusive features that I like too.  One of the things that they do is post these little polls for you to take part in, just for fun I guess.  Sometimes they are about the hometown Milwaukee Brewers, sometimes they are about current local events, sometimes they are about you opinion on some national news story or maybe about your plans for the upcoming holiday weekend.  Whatever.  It's a pretty easy system; you just click on the little button that goes with your choice and away you go to the results.  There are no recounts or hanging chads or anything.  You think it would be easy enough.  But yesterday I came upon a question - one with only two choices for the answer actually - that stopped me in my tracks.  It so befuddled me that to this point I have not answered it, and I doubt I ever will.
     "Are you generally an optimist or a pessimist?"  That's all it asked.  It seems to be an innocent enough question.  I mean, there were only two answers: a.) optimist and b.) pessimist.  So simple, right?  Not so much.  Because if there is one thing that I have learned about organization and grouping in all my years of being alive on this Earth, Company, it is that the fewer categories you have to choose from the harder it is to classify things.  Take all the pens in whatever container you keep your pens and try to organize them into only two piles.  Yeah, it doesn't work very well.  It's doubly hard when it's yourself.  Because I can tell you that if there was a "half optimist/half pessimist" option I would have chosen that in a heartbeat.  If there were maybe three choices, or five, or maybe like sixteen I would have been able to find something that I can feel comfortable calling myself.  But "optimist" or "pessimist?"  I'm just not sure.
     I mean, it's not so much that I can't figure out why I AM one of those two as I can figure out all too easily why I AM NOT either one, which turns into an awful, vicious cycle.  Let's take a look at an example.  Just shout out a starting point.  Choose either one.  Pessimist?  That's a great suggestion.  We are going to start with pessimist.   So I'm a pessimist.  Okay, great.  I was just watching the Brewers game and Corey Hart was up to bat and I said "Watch, he's going to strike out." and he struck out.  Fine.  I don't want to steal the construction barrier with Sister because I am totally sure that we are going to be caught.  Well that's just dandy.  But I always just sort of have this hope and faith that things are going to turn out okay.  Sure I've lost about half of my retirement savings recently with the recession, but I know that in the end the stock market will always trend upwards.  Sure I might have blown most of my rent money on chocolate chip cookies but I know that I will always scrape by.  Whatever.  So I guess that I am an optimist.
      So I am an optimist, am I?  Well that's okay.  I know that we can work it out.  I have a reasonable expectation of success going into any situation.  But not so.  Oh no.  First of all, I might act like I know what I'm doing, but underneath all that hope and faith and "reasonable expectation of success" I am really expecting it all to tank.  And tank badly.  Like I might be going in smiling with a nice firm handshake, but down below the surface, in that part of your body behind the beast bone where you literally, physically "feel" your feelings, all is amiss.  It's like a sailor in a dinghy desperately trying to bail water before the hold is even filling.  The little monkeys at typewriters in the back of my mind are busy typing out contingency plans: A, B, C, and D.  Sometimes all the way down to H or J.  Never I because that looks too much like a 1.  But I digress.  That's how it goes.  I am just always sort of waiting for it to all come tumbling down around me like a house of cards, and I am not so sure as to why.  Maybe it's because then I am prepared for whatever comes around.  Maybe it's because when things don't go wrong then I am pleasantly surprised, and I like being pleasantly surprised.  That's a sign of optimism, isn't it?  Plus, despite the little sailor working away furiously with his little bucket deep in the bowels of The Miles Standish I still go marching in anyway, as if even farther back in the recesses I know all is well.  That's a deep down optimism, isn't it?  I still have the hope and faith that things are going to turn out okay.  I still know that the stock market will always trend upwards.  So now I am an optimist again and we are back to square one.
     And so the cycle goes.  Optimist.  Pessimist.  Back and forth.  I am constantly flipping between the two like a coin in the air on the 50-yard line on an October evening.   And I am still not completing the question because I just don't know.  I understand that I am going to go point my little mouse at one of the bubbles and make my choice and that as soon as I click it I am going to be sorry that I did (pessimist).  I understand that no matter what I pick it's not going to change a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, butterfly effect be damned (optimist?) Maybe I am realist.  Or maybe I am making a mountain out of a mole hill.  That's probably more like it.  There really is not reason that I, or anyone else, has to fit into those narrow categories, despite what the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online edition has to say.  But the pull is still there for me to decide.  So I am going to decide and I want you to as well.  I am going to post the same question to all six of you regular readers and I want you to answer.  I am going to give you a week to decide so get on it and we will discuss the results afterward.  How does that sound?  I am a little afraid of how this will turn out.  Oops, there goes the pessimist in me again.

No comments: