Mellow Doubt

There was a day at the end of last month where I got surprising good news. I’m tempted to make the joke that, in 2020, that’s enough of an unusual occurrence to be the entire story — I mean, have you seen this year? — but the reason I say that isn’t to boast that there was one day when everything wasn’t terrible, but to cue up the real point: when I got that good news, I didn’t really know how to react.

On the one hand, it was certainly not news I’d been expecting. It’s fair to say that I’d been expecting just the opposite, with regards to this particular subject, so I had that element of the unexpected to deal with; I wouldn’t go so far as to call it outright disbelief, but it was close. That might explain some of my confusion as to just how to respond, if nothing else.

Nonetheless, I was in a daze. I worked through what could legitimately be described as suspicion that what certainly appeared to be good news was, in fact, actually bad news in disguise. That felt more comfortable, more believable, more 2020: the idea that something that at first feels like a win is, in fact, setting us up for not only disappointment but failure in some sense. Sure, my subconscious told me, that, I can believe.

But… what if it wasn’t? What if the good news was… just good news? What did that mean? That idea made my brain spin. I’d become so used to the alternative, to getting used to the idea that everything is, given the odds, going to be bad news that being presented with good news just felt nearly impossible, for want if a better way to put it.

Realizing this didn’t feel like a positive. What had happened to my optimism? Had the past year — maybe the past four years, considering — really made me so unable to appreciate the good things? The idea stuck with me for awhile, saddening me with its potential to be true, until I remembered the first thing I’d thought when learning of the good news: Maybe this is a sign that everything’s turning around! Anyone who sincerely thinks things like that hasn’t lost it just yet.

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