I reckon some folks have a daily habit of counting their blessings. At a moment’s notice they can rattle off thirty or forty fine things about their life and all the reasons they just feel so blessed. Other folks seem satisfied with the occasional quick estimate. “Yeah, I guess I am pretty lucky. Nothing’s on fire right now and I haven’t missed a meal in quite a while.” Still other folks keep a different sort of list, an expansive accounting of all the stuff that isn’t what it should be, isn’t what they want and quite frankly isn’t at all what they deserve. Without hesitation, they can spew out a historical listing of groans and grievances, misfortunes and abuses, injustices and indecencies, disappointments and disillusions.
In a moment of chemically induced disclosure, or just a wildly random moment of unpredicted honesty, I’d have to admit that although I’ve been in each one of those groups, there’s one that keeps pulling me in. Regrettably, it seems more natural to me to complain than to appreciate. Even as an occasional ringleader, I can tell you that being in or around that last group is no fun at all.
And yet there is something compulsive about self-pity and complaining. It’s not mesmerizing like a fire or tornado, you know, one of those things that are awful and entrancing at the same time. It’s more like when you know a jug of milk is past the expiration date but you have to unscrew the lid and take a whiff anyway.
Misery loves company because somewhere at its core, misery is both sadistic and masochistic. It’s like a leper colony that is always recruiting other members. And although leprosy is a lot slower, the end result is pretty similar.
On those days when I know I’m coming in with an attitude of something other than gratitude, I should walk down the hall calling out “Unclean! Unclean!” Then my colleagues could just lock their doors until the danger has passed.