“I’d like to go kayaking this weekend.”
That’s my wife talking. She loves to plan. Things like trips and weekends.
“OK – if it doesn’t rain,” I say.
“There ya go,” she says. “Being negative.”
She’s probably right. I tend to toss a bit of shade across her sunshine.
It does seem like I’m a negative person. I see it in myself, the things I say.
You probably know bubbly, positive people. They like to say, “Hey, the glass isn’t half empty. It’s half full.”
Ooookay, I’m thinking. Kind of depends on what’s in the glass. If it’s something I don’t want to drink, then I am not happy there is anything in the glass. I see it’s half full, and I don’t want to drink it.
So it still comes down to how you look at things. Perspective. Attitude. Thus I get that label now and then. Negative.
I really don’t feel like a negative person. I believe in hope. I believe in people. I think they are kind and generous and good. Until they are not.
Ahhh, there is it. Casting that doubt. Because I also think people have a dark side and can do terrible things. And often the good person and the bad person are the same person.
So why am I a doubter? Always suspicious. Aways questioning. Maybe cynical sometimes. Good question.
I blame my career and also what I’d call a learned philosophy.
That philosophy being: The best way to prepare is to expect the worst.
It’s like defensive driving. It’s not smart to assume everyone is a good driver, paying attention and following the rules.
I assume the other driver coming into the four-way stop or red light is daydreaming or texting or about to have a heart attack. I see the possibility of that driver blowing through the stop.
Let me say that again: I see the possibility. Thus my philosophy: Never trust a turn signal.
Now, my career as a reporter has taught me to see all sides to a story. And question all sides. I see other possibilities.
And sometimes, I admit, I see them as probabilities. (Thus the cynic in me now and then.)
But here’s a twist. I do look for positives. When others are clawing apart someone else for something they said or did, I’m not judging. I am pondering other possibilities.
(Hey, that guy who blew the red light may be terrified by someone chasing him or is rushing to a loved one in an emergency room.)
Bottom line: I can’t help it. It’s how my brain works.
Which is why I am blessed with a wife who pushes me into the sunshine and makes plans.
Plans I usually enjoy. If it doesn’t rain.
• Lonny Cain, retired managing editor of The Times in Ottawa, also was a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet in the 1970s. His Paperwork email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Or mail The Times, 110 W. Jefferson St., Ottawa, IL 61350.