Something terrible’s going to happen. I don’t know what it is. My teeth are going to fall out, or I’ll lose my job, or all of my friends will suddenly decide that I smell bad and they don’t want to be seen with me. I can tell something terrible’s going to happen, because I’ve been feeling so good for so long.
My fellow pessimists-by-temperament will understand what I mean. I love God, really I do, but I haven’t got his sense of humor down just yet. Sometimes He talks the sweetest just when he’s got his giant Holy Mallet hidden behind His back. Wham!
So I just can’t quite shake the sense of impending doom. In, you know, a nice way.
My heritage has something to do with it. I’m 100% Jewish by birth — my parents were raised as cultural-but-not-particularly-observant Jews and eventually found the Church — and if there’s a more melancholy, neurotic people anywhere on earth, I’d like to meet them.1 But maybe not chat for too long.
There’s even a Yiddish word this kind of thing: kineahora,2 which you say to ward off the kind of bad luck that comes from talking about how wonderful everything is: as in, “He hasn’t allowed a single run all game, kineahora,” or “You know, I’ve never been hit by a semi while walking down this street, kineahora.“3
And then there is habit. I’m just not used to feeling good. A lot has changed since college, and while I still have my bad days, the old black dog seems to be really dead this time,4 or at least he’s been thoroughly domesticated. So I still wonder in the back of my mind: Is this real, is this here to stay? Is this how normal people feel? Shouldn’t I feel worse?5
On the other hand, it’s good to know that feelings don’t stay. I doubt that I was ever full-on manic-depressive in the clinical sense, but I remember the highs just as vividly as the lows: it was like seeing the world in technicolor, everything just fit to burst, and knowing with complete certainty: This is it, I’ve found the secret, and I will FEEL THIS WAY FOREVER!
Until I didn’t. Ouch, ouch, ouch.
The thing to do, obviously, is just enjoy it while it lasts, and not worry when it’s gone. Hey, that’s William Blake, more or less:
He who binds to himself a joy
Doth the wingèd life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise.6
Now there’s a guy who knew what was up. Except for, you know, being a raving lunatic.