Thursday, April 22, 2010

Do I smell flowers?

I'm sitting on the deck writing this on the laptop. The day is warm, the air is still, the flowers are in riotious bloom and clouds are gathering on the western horizon. Birds sing, a squirrel runs up the knobby old pine tree to my left while another skips through the highest branches on my right.

There's a 5,000-acre forest preserve that borders my wooded backyard and the trees and underbrush are a lush green. If I walked several dozen yards straight ahead, I would come to my back fence, beyond which lies a much-used deer trail. An eagle sanctuary is located within the forest preserve and I can often sit here and watch, in awe, as bald eagles soar majestically overhead.

Life is good. Very good.

And what am I thinking? Well, I'm expecting it to rain any second now and destroy my new Dell laptop with the cool, opaque blue cover. Because those gathering clouds over there to the west look rather ominous. Not really severe storm ominous. Just it's going to rain ominous.

What I'm trying to say is, I'm a cynic. I know. Shocking, isn't it?

Now this cynical nature of mine could be a sign of some serious mental illness. Or, and listen carefully to me here, it could be justified. People who have known me for a long time will tell you that I am the world's luckiest person. And, the world's unluckiest.

I could totally see myself winning the lottery today, and then losing the winning ticket tomorrow. For reals.

I used think all those years in journalism made me the cynic I am today. But today, I honestly believe that cynical people are drawn to journalism much like tornadoes are drawn to mobile home parks. It's a chicken and egg thing, and I now believe the egg came first.

Many years ago, I stumbled across a quote that has long been a favorite of mine. It's by the celebrated journalist (go figure) H.L. Mencken and it goes like this: A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.

So, I'm a cynic. Or not. Either way ... shit. I gotta go. It's starting to rain.


  1. Perhaps this is why we get on so well. I'm a pretty cynical person, probably the most cynical person I know. I used to say I'd not bother quitting smoking because a week later I'd just get hit by a bus. I'm too cynical to actually think I'll be published, or even win my malpractice case against the doctor who butchered me. My luck isn't bad. It's more like ironic.

  2. I'm not cynical, I just don't trust people, if that makes any sense. Well wait, maybe I am...Yes I am. But I haven't been that way for very long. I've become that way in the last few years now that I think about it, but it's only based on my experience.

    Ah well, that's the way it goes I guess. Maybe I'll grow out of it once I'm a millionaire. And I'm not losing any ticket. I'll do like Christopher Walken did in Pulp Fiction with the watch.

  3. LOL, but rain is a GOOD thing! And your yard sounds like heaven.

  4. And when I smell flowers, I reach for the Claritin, elsewise I shant smell anything else until all the pretty flowers die and become potpourri.

    Nothing wrong with a healthy dose of cynicism. It's the cynics that don't get email viruses because they just don't believe that person they spoke to once four years ago when the subject line says "I love you" with an attachment. It's the cynics who keep the naive ones from wandering into the wolf's den and stop them from "helping" some poor foreign dignitary move illegally large sums of money through their bank accounts.

    (And, FWIW, I don't think losing a lottery ticket counts as unluckiest. To be unluckiest you need some extra punch - like your kid uses it to patch the last whole in a papier mache pinata. Or your fan switches on and it lands perfectly atop the shredder. Or someone sets a milk carton down on top of it and half the numbers stick to the bottom.)


  5. I think, ultimately, cynics are former optimists who've had their hopes crushed one too many times. After a while, you learn to expect the bad stuff to happen, so that way if it does you don't suffer the massive let-down.

  6. Dare I jump in here and claim that I am an eternal optimist?

    Sure, I get disappointed in people and events but that's part of the experience, isn't it?

    I probably sound naive or that nothing bad has ever happened to me. That would be an inaccurate assumption. The difference is I don't let those horrific experiences define how I view the world.

    While we can't control the things that happen to us, we have absolute control in how we respond to them. It's not the action, it's the reaction. For me, it's a conscious choice.