display | more...

"Miserablism is is...
...and isn't isn't"

Perhaps my most tenacious personal philosophy, and we're talking one that somehow survived past its inception as a mildly clever joke during middle school, through the always unstable years of high school, and onward into the vast realms of college and the real world beyond, has been that of what I've come to call "optimistic cynicism". Simplified just about as far as it can go, it pretty much boils down to:

Life is good, everything will turn out for the best, just so long as people don't fuck it up.

It's deeper than it sounds. Bear with me on this.

Let's take that apart, piece by piece. "Life is good". A simple statement. The word "life" has two root meanings: that of a biological nature, and that of a philosophical nature. Right now we're more concerned with the philosophy. Life is the collective realization and acknowledgement of the biological factors of existence: birth, death, and everything in-between, basically. It is the sum total of memories that occur between our own personal beginning (birth) and end (for simplicities sake, I'm only dealing with the biological, not the theological. For all we know, memories end at death, despite what your flavor of religion describes). Now, despite taxes, death, pain, goth poetry, disease, and all other evidence to the contrary, life is a pretty hip thing. Without it, you wouldn't be reading this. It is easy to take pleasure in simple things because they are in abundance. It is easy to envy and admire the complexities of nature and science. Existing seems to be much better than the alternative. Life is good.

"Everything will turn out for the best". Chance has a way of working itself so that an astute person can see when a disadvantage becomes an advantage, when depression can give way to euphoria, when disenchantment turns to enlightenment. It can't rain all the time, you know the drill. While it's easy to let life bear down on and crush a person, it's almost as easy to see how petty the things that keep us pinned are. In fact, the only thing that truly prevents happiness is other people -- or ourselves.

"As long as people don't fuck it up". The most hindering corollary to optimistic cynicism, or, rather, the one that balances out all the new age cheeriness, is that people will always fuck things up. There will always be a rival for a love interest, there will always be a friend who lets you down, there will always be people plotting toward their own selfaggrandizing ends. The obvious and easiest way to get around this is to become a hermit, to take a cue from the swamis of old and pack yourself away in a musty cave somewhere. A little bit harder is not letting people get to you. Having just the right mixture of apathy and hope is key here.

Just as nature rights itself, people will redeem themselves, either accidentally or through some deep moral drive. It's just the way things happen.

Someone once said that all human wisdom can be summed up in two words: hope and wait. This is the core of optimistic cynicism: the hoping is part of the deal, and the waiting is easier to bear when you get to the point where you just accept that bad things happen.

Not all life is sunny. Not all life is pain. It's the balance that makes it worthwhile. The taxes I could do without, but all the rest I don't think I'd let go of for the world. Even goth poetry.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.