Sunday, June 16, 2013

Reasons for Being Cranky

Jane Austen's most quoted universal truth is at once a splendid way to begin a narrative and an intended irony of equal splendidness.  You have learned much about your craft of choice from Ms. Austen, much of it built around the constructs of irony, your most favored of all learning platform of hers the novel Persuasion.

The truth of universal acknowledgment you are beginning to notice is that a man of your age or thereabouts is apt to be cranky.  There are longish laundry lists of reasons for this crankiness, moving in as though squatters who have found a fine, unoccupied home in which to squat.  


Some in your generation are afflicted with noticeable arthritis, others have taken on the dreaded ring of adipose tissue about the waist, while yet others have been blighted with gravitational downturn, which is to say wrinkles, bags, and sags.

Yours is also a generation which is some sort of plateau so far as career advancement is concerned, a time where our Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon forbears would have amassed many tales of successful woolly mammoth hunts or heart-rending portraits of aurochs and bison on the walls of caves.  Men who have aspired but not yet delivered on their aspirations to a satisfactory pre-set standard are wont to be cranky.

Men who have played it safe and are now mired in safety and regrets have tendencies toward cranky, and while we're on the subject, men who have spent much of their time allowing their own cynicism and negativism to rule them appear to have embraced a dystopic vision of the universe, its engines and attractions.

There are, to be sure, myriad reasons for being cranky, many of which are not at all a part of the individual genome but which are entirely accidental.  Among these is the play between envy and jealousy directed at another who appears to have profited from mere happenstance rather than purposeful industry.

If you were to grade yourself (which you suppose you are in the act of doing at this very moment), you'd say you were less cranky now than you were at , say, a past time of twenty years back.  You'd also say that on an average, you were cranky now less than twenty percent of the time.  

You also have to admit the arrival of an insight as you enter this paragraph into being.  The insight, a not so gentle tap on the metaphoric shoulder, demanding your attention, is that being in the presence of someone who appears to be not cranky more than ninety percent of the time provokes your suspicion if not your direct crankiness.

This means you have parameters in which being cranky does play a part or, to rephrase that, you are suspicious of parameters or philosophies or lifestyles in which there is no room for cranky responses.

Your best supposition at the moment is that in your more salad days, your cranky index was well into the forty percent range, meaning among other things that you were carrying about a load of resentment and anger that needed to be addressed with the same kind of oversight a street corner salesman must display to avoid being rousted by the cops.

Resentment and anger take effort to deal with.  Far better to work them out by inventing characters and situations whereby you can write your way through them and in the process begin to recognize trends and tendencies which in effect allow you to give them up, offer them, as the Hindus would say, to the fires of Brahman, certainly to bid them a fond farewell.

Reading and writing have led you to conclude that anger and resentment, while among human traits, are also apt to bring forth characters and situations that are cliche, a place you wish to avoid.

Reading and writing lead you to conclude that another hard wired condition--fear--although fraught with potential for cliche, is quite positive if used with close consideration.  You do believe--at least for the moment--that at some distant point, you were fearful of the effects of crankiness on your person.

You have suspected for some time that your default position is enthusiasm and thus you see, via another messenger, a kind of cosmic pizza deliverer, the strategy of looking for something to enthuse over or around or about when the crotchets of crankiness are pestering you for any spare change.


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