Cynicism – Stand Down!

They are composting at Ax’s school. We are composting at Ax’s school. Starting soon. I’m cautiously optimistic that we will create earth from what are now landfill food scraps. I don’t think our plan for collecting food scraps and bringing them to the composter and mixing the scraps with the mulch and turning it and all that is perfect. I told the two other moms on the Green Team that I was concerned that what we planned would not work. Wanda said, “Well let’s give it a try and if it doesn’t work we’ll change it.”

She was so cool about it, so willing to give something a whirl I got a little envious of that kind of risk-taking fearlessness. I’m all, “What if the stuff doesn’t decompose, what if we can’t find the right mulch, what if the kids put the wrong stuff in?” And she’s like, “I don’t know why any of that would happen. And if it does I guess we’ll deal with it then.”

“What if the composter thingy doesn’t work?”

“I feel like it probably does work since it’s the one that the city is promoting.”

“Ok.” I say. And inside, deep skepticism, fear, doubt.

I don’t know. When I was in law school I remember this craggy old securities law professor looking out at us the first day and bellowing, “Who here is a natural cynic?” And a bunch of us raised our hands. “Good!” he proclaimed, “Cultivate that. It is your most useful quality.” And so then yeah, I did take that natural cynicism and kind of hone it in school and practice, polish it up.

I’m trained to sniff out the problems in a situation, the potential problems, the what-if-scenarios, the worst-case-scenarios. And even though I’ve been working on myself for years to un-train that learning, to take life at face value, to see things as essentially okay if not grand most of the time, that disaster-cizing is still the default. And it makes life less fun.

It’s useful for some stuff, but not for things like working in a team to do compost at Ax’s school. I’d like to get better at regulating when I activate that particular skill set and when I don’t. Turn the knob on the dial and go into hammer-mode or not as I choose. I can do it, I think. I’m gonna keep going.