Being Right vs. Being Lucky

“You know, Elie, I’ve been thinking about this the last couple of days,” said the skeleton.  

What’s that, dad?  

“You’re spending too much time talking to a dead man recently.  Look, not that I don’t enjoy our conversations, but, I mean, do you think it’s healthy for this chat to be the highlight of your day?” the skeleton turned his head, as though looking around.

You mean as opposed to my mediocre diet, my relative lack of exercise, the less than ideal amount of sleep I get, my solitary life, the lack of a new network of needed doctors thanks to the vagaries of Obamacare, things like that?  

“Yeah, you’re right.  Listen, what I was really thinking about was the need to be right, where it comes from, how it does its idiot work.  My mother, who you learned from Eli whipped me in the face and sealed my fate before I was two, was a powerless, angry woman.  All she had was being obeyed, by anyone she could bend to her will.   I cannot imagine the terrifying shithole she was born into.   Talk about born under a bad sign, the filthy little hamlet off a river outside Pinsk was literally stomped out, rubbed right off the map of the world.  Never existed.

“The Jews who eked out an existence there?  Fuck ’em, who gives a shit?  Poor people, Jews, grind ’em up, pfooo! good riddance, rabbi.  I cannot begin to imagine all the nightmare elements that went into making my mother a little tyrant.  I never thought much about these things when I was alive, for fear of what thinking about them might do to me.   People who claim to love you can use you as a slave?  Your family can just be stomped into the mud without a trace?   What kind of arbitrary, brutal life are we born into?

“That was one reason I loved animals so much, as your mother also did.  I think we transmitted that to you and your sister.  A dog will return whatever treatment he gets, will always give you the benefit of the doubt.   It’s like animals cut to the chase, to the essential thing we all need in life: caring for each other.   It was my pleasure, although I didn’t enjoy it, of course, giving those insulin shots to Sassy every evening.  The dog was a complete sad sack, you remember.  Nobody particularly liked her, she’d hide under the bed, cower from people for no reason.  We knew she had no reason to cringe because we’d raised her from a newborn pup, she never had anyone do anything mean to her.  Still, she was an odd dog, very paranoid.  Your mother said she was mentally ill, maybe she was, I guess it’s possible a dog can be mentally ill.  

The thing was, Sassy trusted me and I took care never to hurt her.  You know, I’d pinch the skin on her back, make a little fold, and the needle was very thin, I don’t even know how much she felt it.  But she seemed to know I was doing this for her benefit and was always very calm and trusting when I’d give her the shot.  I think now how natural it felt to take such tender care of her and could kick myself again for being so unnatural so much of the time, like in those battles you describe around the dinner table.”

Well, there’s nothing natural about being natural a lot of the time, I suppose.  Our society is based on being unnatural, of course, on a false and desperate notion of winning and losing that makes us the best possible, most driven, consumers.  We’re in the hands of cannibals, no different in their essential natures than they’ve ever been, like true believing functionaries of the Nazi or any other ruthless single-minded party.  You mention the need to be right– that’s the only game in town, a town that can, as far as we can tell, be rubbed out under a jackboot with or without notice.

“The white indentured servants made common cause with the black slaves and Indians during the early days of our great experiment in democracy,” said the skeleton.  “It seemed obvious enough to poor whites that they were in the same boat as the other servants and slaves, as well as with the Indians whose land was being stolen by the wealthy whites.   Black and white servants became romantically involved, escaped slavery together, often found sanctuary with the Indians, with whom they made common cause.  

“This caused a major concern for the wealthy new land barons, you understand.   The idea of poor people of all races united and looking for some measure of justice gave the status quo the heebie jeebies.   ‘How to keep everything for ourselves?’ wondered the wealthiest and the greediest.

“You read about it in Zinn’s Peoples’ History, Virginia, in the 17th century, actually put it into law– the white man’s superiority over the Negro.  A white indentured servant got much better treatment than the average African slave.  You couldn’t strip him naked when you whipped him, for example.  When you freed the white man after his indenture you had to give him 100 acres to farm, and a mule, and ten barrels of corn meal, a musket, some money.   Every white servant knew this was coming to him at the end of his years as a common nigger, and he got it under Virginia law even before the year 1700.   The wealthy ‘planters’ created a culture down there that enlisted poor whites to oversee their fellow slaves, where the white man could look down on his inferiors, no matter how low the white man’s station in life.

 “That’s what segregation was all about.  Even the poorest white trash could walk into a bathroom with plumbing, tile on the walls and floor, doors on the toilet stalls.  The Colored bathroom?  Hah, sometimes those creatures would just have to do their business behind a bush.  You know, not every place had a bathroom where a Negro could sit on a regular toilet, wash their hands in a regular sink.   So ‘separate but equal’ was like a hilarious joke told over and over again by winking whites, it was a way of saying everyone got what they deserved.

“The examples are countless.  How does the great democracy, who welcomes the poor and starving of all nations to participate in this experiment in human equality, justify forcing the natives off their land, sometimes in death marches, destroying the buffalo herds that are their sustenance, making treaties they will violate over and over, eventually just killing the fuckers en masse?   Manifest Destiny.  Ask any junior high school student what gave the descendants of white Europeans the right to march over Mexicans, Indians and anyone else in their way and they’ll tell you:  manifest destiny.  

“The phrase was invented by a newspaper man, caught on quickly.  Our destiny is manifest, look, it’s right here, plain as the nose on your face, see?  Destiny is in our hands.  Like a team one game behind with four games to play, just keep winning, that’s all we can do by way of controlling our destiny.

“Being right, it’s all most powerless people get, Elie,” said the skeleton, slowly shaking his head. “The people you talk to, they are all smiling at you as they think ‘he’s a smart guy, he can seem to justify his beliefs, articulate his values… but he’s a loser.'”  

I’ve always been that way, dad, clever with words, able to articulate my values and beliefs.   With those things, and a paid Metrocard, I can get on any subway I like.   We are judged on one scale here, as you know, what we are worth.  And that is measured the only way it can be, in the honest coin of dollars and cents.  

“Well, it’s all most people can understand.  It’s as manifest as Manifest Destiny.  Is it better to be rich or poor?  Ask anyone and you will get the same clear, entirely reasonable answer.  If your goal is something you can show clearly to the world, how much easier is your life than struggling to advance abstractions?  Just say ‘Manifest Destiny’ shoot the savage in the face, force the women and children into an icy river to drown and build your railroad.   People who hesitate, who think too much, people like you… well, what is the point?”  

Ah, you pose a question I cannot answer today, father.  I think I will lie down with that familiar black dog and rest my eyes for a while, as I ponder my manifest destiny.

 

This year you write the book

Whatever you may have said or written about it last year, or in any past year, he said to himself, this year you must actually write the book.

“What is this ‘he said to himself’ business? ‘More to see in 1983?'”

Never mind that, he said, vow that this will be a year without parentheticals…come crisply to the point.  The clock has long been ticking, it is time to score some points, the shot clock winding down, shoot, score, ca-ching!

In a dream last night I had set up my electric guitar in the living room of Hitler’s house.  My host had insisted, I’d gone to plug in in the living room.  Hitler was busily rushing about with guitar cords.  I didn’t notice what kind of guitar he had plugged in, but he was eager to jam.

“A jam session with Hitler?” the whoosh of a long sigh filled the air.

 Yes, and in the dream I knew enough not to argue with him, knew he’d storm into the other room and come back with a pistol. He was famously psychopathic, I knew, and wouldn’t hesitate to show his irritation by shooting me in the face.  The usual low stakes had been raised a bit in this jam session, I later thought to myself.  I never heard him play, because I woke up before that point, but I suspect he played like he spoke.

“Don’t we all?”  Some year without parentheticals (somebody said)

and forget ellipsis, too …

This is the year you do all the things you have not yet done, the things you gave up as impossible, improbable, too hard, too taxing.   This is the year to unlearn learned helplessness, he said with waning faith.  Meaning enough with the 57 varieties of brooding.  

It is time to stop picturing yourself on the lip of that ravine in Vishenevitz just because the day, or year, dawns darker than expected.  Just stop it.  And stop talking to yourself, and pondering, with endless unprofitable invention, the slipperiness of the ground most of us are tap dancing on.

Suddenly, the music begins, and who is that coming overloud through the amp on the left side?   We can only guess.

An Epidemic of Mental Illness?

This excellent article, which I found very convincing, was given to me by a very intelligent man who considers himself insane.  He may well be right, although the piece he recommended is well worth reading if you are considering a psychopharmaceutical cure for what ails ye.  

Or if you are a psychiatrist who spends hours talking to patients, while wondering how to make more money in less time, with far fewer head aches.

The second part of the fascinating two part book review is here.

Projects

There may be individuals, I suppose there must be, who can continue uphill, pushing a worthy long-shot project, undaunted by the continual climb, the lack of landmarks, fellow-travelers, encouragement, the barren landscape.   Could be part of the myth of the rugged individual, of course, the invigorating but pernicious idea that one person, alone, can create a community to play a small role in changing horror into hope.   There are the usual outliers, guys like Don Trump, who start with nothing and wind up– or who start with relatively little, a few million, say… and…. ah, fuck Trump and the Trump he rode in on.

There is, it is written, a time to reap and a time to sow.  There are other worthy projects I’ve been neglecting as I neglect the larger one, an ambitious undertaking that has already showed its potential to do what it purports to do.   Few alive today are aware of its great potential, true, but, anyway, it seems a good time to list and try to advance the other worthy projects I must also put my back into.  Progress in one thing helps in another.

Among the 901 posts I have put on this blagh since August of 2012 there are a dozen or more that can be raked into the approximate bones of the Book of Irv, the tragic and illuminating story of my difficult father.   There are posts on my mother, an equally compelling character, probably another dozen.   One of each of these story types was published, in abbreviated form, for a small but decent payday.  You can see them here and here.  Although each bears the mark of sometimes arbitrary editing, the small violence done to my prose, the random insertion of a cliche here and there– a very small price to pay for the nice cash money I received for them.

There are several posts about animals, my ongoing vigilance against doing harm, musings on friendship, etc.   Each should be raked into a little pile, organized, submitted somewhere for money.

Of course, when I write of raking into little piles and organizing, the chaos in here strikes an ironic pose, winks at me saucily.  “You want to rake some piles and do some organizing, my friend?  Really?  Heh.”   I should take these sprawling dunes of paper, drawing books, boxes, cords, rulers, cutting boards, sunscreen, dropper bottles, rubber stamps, dead electronic devices, hats, zipper bags, music books and many other odd items and tame them, one by one.  Would make everything else much easier, no question.  One small triumph inspires the next.

There is also the memory of the excellent advice an adjunct professor in law school gave us at the end of that last semester.  When you study for the bar exam, he said, treat it like you are in training for a grueling fight.  Set a daily schedule of study, keep to it, but also eat well, work out, get enough sleep every night.  You need to be in the best shape of your life, he told us, mentally and physically.  Sitting for hours studying means you’ll need to schedule daily time for exercise.  The exercise will also help you unwind from your studies and improve your sleep.  I took him at his word and rode the bike for an hour every night.  It helped a lot as I passed two bar exams in three days.

After long days at the computer, mostly distracting myself, I rode my bike, briefly, each of the last two nights.  It was good to be rolling again, if also a little sobering to be reminded– when you get back on the bike it takes a while to build up to where you want to be.  Those hills you conquered on nightly rides in the past will kick your ass until you build back up to being able to kick their asses.  I’ve been there before, needing to get back into shape, getting back into better shape.  It is a pleasure when you do, a struggle to get back there, a longer struggle the longer you neglect to begin.

Like so many other things in life, my friend.

 

 

 

 

Ten Minute Drill – Supervisor

It’s like going to the dentist, really, a ten minute drill (and more for the reader than for me, perhaps).

Thinking of some recent folly, which I’d like to comb out of mind.  With high hopes I began a course of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) with a student therapist, at a steeply discounted rate that added up, over many weeks, to the price of a decent guitar, or a very good acoustic amp.  I’m not crying over the money (though I’m resentful) as much as over the long stretch of unthinkingly wasted time.

CBT is a technique that allows the successful practitioner to run negative feelings through the filter of Reason, to consider these feelings from a more productive perspective.  Identify their source and move beyond them to do what negative feelings often stop one from doing.   I’d gone into the program with three distinct but inter-related goals, made no progress at all on the first two and only minimal progress on the third.

Trouble was, the therapist was a student.  Trouble is, I speak well, fluently, concisely.  This student, young enough to be my daughter, revealed, after many, many weeks of spinning my wheels, that she deferred to me, because of our age difference, because I speak so well, am so analytical, seem so capable and confident and blah blah blah.

“Have you no supervisor?” I finally ask, aghast.   I had begun suggesting exactly what the therapy should have been doing, the simple, practical steps that should have been reasonably taken, but many weeks too late, the sessions are almost done.  Another exercise in uselessness.  If I could have designed and implemented the course of treatment myself, motivated myself to move forward toward the three unrealized goals I came here with six months ago, why would I need to be coming here?  “What has your supervisor advised you?”

She was cagey about the supervisor, yes she had one… but… it’s good that we’re talking about how disappointed you feel.   I realize now, since each session is video taped, since her supervisor is clearly not helping her to be a more effective therapist, that she’s aware that this person who is evaluating her will watch with twitchy, beady eagle eye for the moment in any session when she might admit, in the interests of that candor so important to effective therapy, that her supervisor is a bit hands off, distracted, stuffy, paranoid, pompous, kind of the caricature of that useless, tic afflicted maniac we think of as becoming a supervisor and evaluator of other shrinks.

“Do you feel better now?” asks Siri.

Well, Siri, a tiny, tiny bit better, yes, thank you.  I’d better get back to designing my own therapy program now.

Reason vs. Emotion, redux

Here we go again, goddamn it, tap tap tap like a blind man here at the keyboard instead of picking up the phone and being in contact with other humans, like my wonderful nephew or my very cool niece, instead of going visiting, renewing ties with living, breathing creatures.    

Although here on the blank page, things can be set out and pondered in a way that is rare when we sit with others, listening, waiting, thinking we know what they are not hearing, hearing what they are, possibly, not saying.  

“I thought that piece about the ticking time bomb was another screed against Dick Cheney, the personification of evil, I just couldn’t take another one….”  

“Was it about Cheney?”  

“No, not really, but the opening made me think it would be.”  

“Ah-HAH…”

Expectations.  There is what there is and what we think there is.  More precisely, what we feel there is.  Our thoughts and expectations are influenced by our emotions, obviously.   There is no truth-based reason for general optimism or general pessimism, these are features of general mood.  Genetic, perhaps, a tendency toward the major key or the minor key.  Me, I steeped myself in the blues, a five note minor key, that music is in my soul.  The major key, often considered happy and optimistic, set against the sadder minor scales, always gave me an uncomfortable shudder of church.  

The church, to me, in the abstract, an institution that long sanctioned the mistreatment of my kind.  Bad-smelling incense, a super-wealthy institution that tolerates terrible crimes against the most helpless of its own innocents, using shameless threats about God to shame the victims into silence.  And let us not mention the swords wielded and oceans of blood spilled in the name of the Prince of Peace.  “What you do to the least of us you do to ME!” warned Jesus.  The fighting popes had infallible reasons why Jesus didn’t really mean this, skewering the least of us, disemboweling and plundering in the name of Christendom.

 “You mean, I’m sure, to exempt from this merciless portrait of Christianity hundreds of millions of good, kind, generous Christians who take the proper lesson from the life and teachings of Jesus.”  

Yes, thank you,  of course. I certainly do– along with a few billion fine Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists too, and everyone else who practices their religion for the right reasons.  The righteous of all nations have a share of the world to come, no doubt.  I’m painting with a broad, savage brush today, but it doesn’t change the larger truth.  Most people in the world are decent people, most religious people are humble and good in their practice.

The hellishness of the world was set out brilliantly in Catch 22, the concept of Catch 22.  You can get out of the army if you’re crazy.  Plain, clear, merciful.  There is one small caveat, Catch 22.  If you can prove that you actually are crazy —  wanting to leave the army shows that you are actually not crazy, therefore, in the army you will stay.  Catch-uh 22!  This merciless catch sums up the world of men as well as any single concept.  

The precepts of the church are mercy, charity, peace, gentle practices, service, devotion, loving our neighbors, even our enemies, but those precepts do not always translate into following the way of Jesus.  Unscrupulous religious demagogues have always carved out exceptions to Jesus’s love edict for those neighbors who hate our freedom, disagree on any significant aspect of our Christian belief (a sect of religious Christians once fought a hundred year war against another over whose love of Jesus was set out the right way), for people who insist they were born homosexual, or those who shrilly try to hold the church accountable for life-altering crimes against children, or blah blah blah.  

“Oh!  Taking a stand against the institutionalized hypocrisy of the worst of the Church on a Sunday!  Very bold.”

No, that’s not my goal today.  I give the example to show how mood colors our interpretation of the world.  Everything I’ve written above is true, even if not the entire picture.  Does it cancel out the comfort widows and orphans have always taken from the church?  The deep Christian faith that sustained American slaves generation after generation?  

“Why do you have to bring slavery into it, pantload?”  

Because Christianity was indispensable to ‘the Peculiar Institution’, as you know.

“Jeez, you’re in a mood today….” 

One slave ship captain had a revelation as he was steering another ship full of captured Africans across the murderous Middle Passage to lives of almost unceasing torment.  According to the story he turned the boat around, released all the prisoners, got out of the human trafficking business.  He wrote Amazing Grace, the hymn about God saving a wretch like him.  One of the most popular hymns around, they probably sang it at Klan rallies too.

“They didn’t sing it at fucking Klan rallies!  Have you no decency?! What the hell are you on about?”  

Catch-22.  

“The thing you need to do is shave, shower, go outside and visit a sick person.  Put on a clown nose and cheer up a dying child in a cancer ward.  Go find homes for one or two of those adorable, doomed little kittens.  Spread some goddamned joy, instead of ruminating on the horrors of the church.  The horrors of the church, the horrors of the church…  Jesus, how goddamned original….” 

Catch-22– the things that would help my mood the most today, my mood prevents me from doing.  

Suddenly, in my head is the Temptations great version of “I Can’t Get Next to You”, one of the greatest tracks ever spun on a piece of vinyl. I can turn the grey sky blue-uh, I can make it rain, whenever I want it to… but the things I want to do the most, I’m unable to do.

“Unable, or unwilling?”

You clearly know nothing of my work.

Head in Hands (labored re-creation)

This afternoon, at a loss for anything better to do, and having written that piece referencing Cheney that activated Sekhnet’s PTSD and made her cry one sentence in (where I stopped), I found myself sitting in the universal pose of resigned inaction, head in hands.  My few chores done and a futile attempt at a restorative nap aborted, I sat wearily at my desk near the window overlooking Sekhnet’s farm and my head sank into my hands.  I sat that way for a long moment.  The symbolism of this posture dawning on me, I lifted my head, opened this computer and resolutely tapped out a few hundred words that disentangled some tendrils, put it about as well as I can.  

It was a different kind of post than most of these and it felt like a good day’s work.  Writing it put my thoughts and feelings in order, explained some things I was hard pressed to understand or express and salvaged an otherwise fairly bleak and low-energy day for me.

Sekhnet and I went shopping and after the long trip I opened the blahg to read it to her.  There was no sign of the new piece anywhere, not in drafts, not in the trash.  “Head in Hands” does not exist, I was informed.  I was sure I’d hit publish, I’d definitely selected the categories, which appear below this post now, which I have already saved now three times.  It was hard to believe I had never even once saved the draft.  I hadn’t shut off the computer or logged out of WordPress, yet, no trace of the ninety minutes of writing.  

Seeing it wiped away at the moment I was going to read it to Sekhnet I felt panic and then rage, at once it became the most profound thing I’d ever managed to write, of course, being now irretrievably lost.  In despair I realized how impossible it would be to recreate the integrity of the piece, whatever music it had contained.  It took all I had not to scream or smash something.  Sekhnet was sympathetic, immediately reminded me I should always save my work, no matter what, we’ve both learned the hard way, blah blah blah, helpful advice I couldn’t listen to.  850 something posts on this blahg with no hitch that I can recall, maybe one.   Fitting reward at the end of a day I dragged myself through, to have some of my best work wiped away without a fucking trace and for no explainable reason.  I went outside and stalked for a mile.   

I’d started off wondering if dysthymia had me by the neck lately and posted a link to a wiki describing the condition.   I compared the inevitable hopeless feeling to music, the depressed theme striking a familiar chord, persistent fatigue providing the bass, empty stretches of senseless inaction like a sad string section, the dulled, receding emotions forming amusical harmonies to a background music as pervasive and hideous as the sickeningly effective ad jingle that plays involuntarily in your head.  

I mused about the genetic component of dysthymia and described my mother setting out for work every day, carrying dysphoria on her shoulders, working all day, coming home on the train, cooking us dinner, watching TV, reading, looking forward to the emotional release of the opera Live from the Met that throbbed from the stereo every Sunday (it may have been every Saturday).  She became tearful easily, was often angry, over-ate, reported feeling blue when she was alone, though she was always convivial and had a good sense of humor in company.

I spent hours alone in the basement, listening to blues records, the same sides over and over, playing along on an acoustic guitar, learning the ropes.  Friends came and went, I never questioned their qualifications or motives.  I enjoyed interacting with them, cherish a few of them still, but probably spent much more time by myself than in their company.  When alone I worked in one expressive medium or another, it always seemed important to me to express myself well.  I follow the same practice now.  

This tendency to isolation is quite possibly a symptom of dysthymia, a diagnosis I dismissed, a hazy condition easily waved off because it lacks the sharp drama of a scary depression, or a rising anxious terror, or the wild mania that will land one in the Emergency Room.  The proclivity to oversensitivity and introspection could also be called part of an artistic temperament, I suppose, but that temperament famously comes at a steep price.

I was considering, in far less words than this, that I should probably go off to work every day, or at least several times a week.  Any work, meaningful or not is not important, the main thing is to keep oneself busy.  This is universal therapy practiced by most people in the world and much mischief and violence are the result of enforced idleness, too much time on one’s hands.  Working people have routines and stay busy, the validation they get from doing their jobs well is part of what makes their lives make sense to them, makes them feel productive.  At the end of the day they have a good reason to be tired, to relax and unwind, and they have to be ready to get up for work early the next day so too much emotional heavy lifting is out of the question.  

Unlimited time to ponder and imagine is not a good thing in the long run.  It is difficult, maybe impossible, to sustain vital creativity in isolation anyway.  Creativity is intended to be shared, it’s collaborative by its nature.   You may sometimes create fine work, hone it to a great smoothness and clarity, provoke thoughts and feelings in a unique way, but such work, done primarily for yourself, has an element of madness to it, is not complete as expression until it is received by another.  It is necessary to find a partner or two, it seems to me, if the work is going to have real meaning and resilience.  Things I write here for a small handful of readers, sometimes true things, at times elusive but obvious when pinned down, a good in and of itself.  But in another sense: what the fuck?

I noted that with no warning, today, I find myself again in that hot August night outside Vishnevitz, the tortured little town where we’d been forced to fence ourselves into a crowded quarter six months earlier, using barbed wire, splintered boards, chicken wire, plaster.  They’d forced us to pay for it too, with money we needed for food and medicine, and now had finally marched those of us who survived to the side of the ravine, my tiny nephews and nieces walking at the unnatural pace of the feeble, hobbling elders I’d assisted up the road.  

This forced march was supervised by our neighbors, people who cursed their difficult lives and had for centuries looked with superstitious ignorance for someone to take it out on, to make pay.   These captive fellow citizens of Vishnevitz had been ordered to murder by conscripted German men brainwashed by a madman in a society conditioned by generations of militarism, conformity and war.   The Ukranians collaborated gladly, having the chance to freely pour out the hatred and humiliation that had been boiling in them for generations.  

They made the night stink with their drunken anti-Semitic songs and their infernal banging to cover the groans and cries.  I tried not to look at them, what was the point?  There was nothing to say.  Why give them the satisfaction?  Humans, these were not exactly that.  The deadly play was written in blood and shit by people who hated themselves, murderers.

“Goddamn it Vasily, I hate this fucking life, I curse my goddamned mother for bringing me into this fucking life, Vasily.  Give me the goddamned vodka, Vashke, and we’ll do what we have to do.  Fooh!  It tastes like your stinking spit, Vasily.  That’s OK.  It’s good.  Let us do what we came here to do to these fucking kykes, OK.”

There was no point to run, nowhere to go and the old people and the children couldn’t run anyway, there was nothing to be done, no expression to even have on your face.  Running would only provide a moment of challenge and excitement for these reptiles, and they have excellent depth perception and three dimensional vision, reptiles.  I said nothing, my face two eyes, a nose and a mouth.  I flattened myself into two dimensions, both eyes on one side of my profile, fuck you, reptile.

Why invent the time machine for this particular trip, I cannot say.  Pessimism is wrong, nothing good can come from it.  It is not always right to be optimistic, of course, but hope is a better mistake than hopelessness.  In a world of miracles and atrocities there comes a time to simply sit with your head in your hands sometimes.  It just is what it is, as they say and, as I did not make the world, I just live in it, for whatever time I am given.