Your Resigned Optimism Sucks
This week Old Man Winter sucker-punched us right in the back of the head. He sang us all off to a peaceful slumber with mendacious lullabies, promising us a lush, warm winter. And then, right as we were all floating off to the Land of Sweet Dreams, he flipped us over onto our stomachs and bombarded us with deluge of horrible sleet and snow.
And he did it right at 5 o’clock traffic too, the fiend.
Horrible weather like we had on Monday evening (1/23) makes me spew vile, hate-filled epithets at God Himself and everyone or everything that could be involved with the manufacture and distribution of snow. Especially when I have to drive on the freeway. Howard Stern? Lenny Bruce? Andrew Dice Clay? Stuff and bother. They would all swoon and faint like pinch-faced Victorian-era Protestants were they to hear the x-rated jeremiads that dance on my unclean lips.
Invariably, someone will overhear me cursing Jack Frost and Elohim and ask me “why get all bent out of shape about something you cannot control?”
Because – I can’t control it, dummy.
The time to shut up and stop complaining is when a problem is fixable. If getting rid of winter weather from now until the time this rotten planet falls to pieces were a simple matter of finding a switch and flipping it to “off”, this conversation would be over before it began. I don’t wax operatically and enraged over an itch on the sole of my foot. I’m too busy untying my shoelaces, getting ready to scratch the ever-lovin’ hell out of that itch.
But if it’s something beyond my control, and beyond my influence, I’m gonna need five minutes to vent.
Resignation is not the remedy for a natural, healthy rage, and I feel sorry for people who feel that way. Because their problem isn’t fixed. And on top of that they went and bottled their feelings about said problem. My feelings about winter aren’t going to go away, just because I acknowledge the fact that weather machines have yet to be invented.
When people resign themselves to the fates – even in a fight they know they cannot conceivably win – that’s when people start losing the traits that made a race of slow, mostly hairless bipeds without fangs or claws the dominant species on the planet. I propose to you that blind, fruitless anger was responsible for most of the early advancements of the human race. Cavemen were no better at dealing with the uncontrollable aspects of their environment. In fact, their winters definitely sucked worse than mine. But maybe they channeled that frustration into something constructive.
Maybe they said to themselves “Okay, I can’t control the fact that this white stuff comes down from the sky every year and ruins my life. But I can fix the problem with my hairless skin by wrapping myself in some of these hides. I can’t catch the bear whose hide is so warm. I’ll have to invent some kind of device that helps chuck sharp objects at his head and chest. I can’t control the fact that nothing grows during this time of the year. But I can farm during the summer and store enough to get me through.”
There you have it – if you Cro-Magnon a rough December, he’ll eventually turn it into a civilization. Thanks to his frustration. I am inspired to amend the words of William Ernest Henley – “My head covered in slush, but unbowed…”
Even in the fight you that know you’re going to lose, don’t lose your instinct to fight. Don’t stop bringing fire to the things that bother, even if they seem like insurmountable opponents. If you lose that ire, you lose everything. This is how people find themselves at the mercy of oppressive governments. This is how people find themselves twenty years into a marriage that was already a bust at year five. This is how some people, perfectly healthy and in the prime of their life, lay down one night and just die quietly in their sleep. They lost their fight.
Resignation is a time-tested way to ensure that life sucks forever. It’s a good way to both not address the issue and to feel like pantywaists for not taking a stand, even if that stand is quixotic and ultimately fruitless. If enough people lose their fight, it could end civilization as we know it.
If just one person takes their ire and molds it into something contructive, it could change the whole world. Maybe not the thing that they wish would change. Snow won’t end. But we can work around it. If we have enough fire in our collective belly, that is.
The weather’s getting colder. The sun is setting right now. It might snow again tonight. If it does, I’m gonna need a couple minutes alone in the car to scream. Then, I promise, I’ll stop complaining so loudly that it ruins everyone else’s evening too. I promise I’ll shut up.
Anyway, I’m going to be too busy working on that weather machine. For now, my hatred of Old Man Winter will keep me warm.
By John-Ross Boyce – Opinions Editor