Skeptic, But Grateful


I know that sometimes I can seem like a grouch. I don’t do it out of meanness. I was very fond of being one of those super-positive, saccharine people who always see the glass half full. I will say even more: that is my natural state. But I chose –  I chose! – not to embody it.

Being positive is not a necessity. It’s not a rare specialty – the only requirement to be a positive, happy-go-lucky fellow is to be ignorant! The world has more than enough human material to meet its needs for positivism.

And then, it’s also a practical matter. If I take the best view of the world, and defend the position that it’s all unicorns and rainbows, then when the sky begins to crumble, I’ll be running around like a headless chicken – like everyone else.

Assuming the worst, on the other hand, helps me be prepared. So if disaster strikes, someone is prepared. And if the future proves me wrong, well, it’s a mistake I make with pleasure. It’s always good when things go better than expected!

Premeditatio malorum, I believe was what the Stoics called it: the rehearsal of the worst circumstances, so that the setbacks of fortune would not catch them off guard.

It seems to me like a wise practice, and not in the least contrary to living the good life. Skepticism is not ingratitude; on the contrary, it is the recognition that when things can so easily go to hell in a hand-basket, the fact that everything works out fine in most days is a miracle worth recognising.

Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels