My Default Switch


I try to be positive.

“Try” is the keyword in that sentence.

Over the years, I’ve written ad nauseam about the various reasons that I struggle to maintain a positive attitude. The bulk of those reasons are due to growing up in a family deeply rooted in negativity, pessimism, and in some cases, narcissism, in an area of the country that—in my youth—was seeing an economic downturn that could stymie even the most hardcore of optimists.

Those factors, combined with what I now know was/is my own underlying depression, left me steeped in negative energy and right on track for an adult life of well-learned pessimistic, and passive-aggressive narcissism.

“Did you see my new car?”

“Very nice. You like red, eh?” Just don’t crash it. A guy I worked with, Bob Danjakowski, got a new Buick last year. He had it for a week, crashed it into a bus. Killed him and his whole family.”


A good chunk of what you see written here on this site is just me being a hyperbolic goof, and all in good fun. Poking fun at myself, and much of our society is sadly “my thing.” And all of that comes easy for me because, in real life, my default switch is set to negative. It takes work for me to be positive; it also takes medicine and some bi-weekly mind-bending.

All of that is work that I am willing to put in. The emotions that I begrudgingly dig up and talk about, the mental scars that I accept, the relationships that I scale further and further back, and the co-pays that I fork over, are with the idea of change in mind. Positive mental change.

“Hey, I just got a job as a graphic designer at Weltschmerz!”

“That’s good, where is it?

“In downtown Weltsburgh.”

“Ohh, why there? That drive isn’t going to be fun, all that damn traffic! I always thought you should have tried a bit harder in school and studied history.”

“Yeah, I should have studied more.

I work for that change because I long for it. I work at it to provide B with a positive environment that has him thinking that he can do anything he wants in life. And if he fails, I will be there to pick him up and help him try again. I won’t say “you could have, should have, or didn’t do” something. I will encourage him to travel, explore, seek opportunities, and dream; all things that are way easier for me to type than to consistently put into practice.

Why am I writing this? I have no idea other than I saw a one-legged goose yesterday. It looked lonely, and it made me sad. The goose was most likely perfectly content, knowing that despite only having one leg, it can still easily stand, float, swim (possibly in circles), and fly. However, my gut reaction was, “Hey, a goose with one leg. That sucks. That must be why there are no other geese around it. What a miserable life.”

“Do you remember when you played football in high school, and how the team would run out onto the field, and you would be the last one, lumbering up behind the rest? Ha, ha, ha!”

“Yeah. I remember.”

Seeing that goose and having those negative emotional thoughts made me realize that my work is not done. These are trying political, economic, and pandemic-fearing times for a lot of folks, and keeping a positive mindset is becoming increasingly harder for everyone. For me, that means working even harder, and being thankful that at 48 years old, I’m becoming mentally mature enough to recognize when I’m slipping into default mode, and know that I need to keep working. I guess I owe that one-legged goose a thank you.

NOTE: The examples (in red) used in this post are fictionalized accounts of similar conversations I’ve had in the past that have left me shaking my head and muttering “what the actual fuck?” Also, the photos were taken on Tuesday’s hike.


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