Blogging in E minor
Usually just a bunch of silly crap.

In Praise of Proactive Paranoia

Based upon the children’s book, “Porky Paulie Goes to the Fair,” circa 2001

 

            I have a gift for looking into the future and seeing all the things that might possibly go wrong. I get this from my mother. Unlike her, I have learned that all the things that could happen may not necessarily actually happen; whereas, she believes that the worst things that could happen will happen.

            For example, when one of us kids would throw a gum wrapper out the car window, my mother believed she would be pulled over and get the maximum $500 fine, as was posted on the roadside signs. Furthermore, she believed that if any of her kids were caught with drugs in her house, the police would put her in jail. Thus was the nature of my mother’s neurosis.

            But I have since learned to temper my neurosis talent. Rather than use my divinations as cause to jump off the deep end, I realize that I am foreseeing potential problems that may need to be prevented. I call this being proactive. Others call it paranoia. Nevertheless, this is a useful skill, being that I am in the problem-solving business.

 .

            As a child, people were always telling me to relax. “You need to learn to trust us,” my Kindergarten teacher told me. My classmates were amused when I won a trophy with “World’s Greatest Worrier” inscribed on the base upon which a rather saucer-eyed, panic-stricken basset hound cowered. “How appropriate!” my teacher mused.

            I remember one spring when tornado activity was unusually high. Perhaps this was when I learned all about this frightening, destructive phenomenon that was indigenous to our region. At school, we were told to get in the basement when the sirens went off. My parents had informed me that a tornado sounded like a train without the whistle. And of course, I naturally assumed that tornados were out to get me!

            One Sunday evening, my family and I had observed the skies turn from a placid blue to a sickening shade of pea green in the matter of minutes. And then the wind stopped suddenly and utterly, the seemingly unnatural silence producing an ominous sense of foreboding doom.

            “They say that the wind stops before a tornado hits,” my father explained.

            “It’s the calm before the storm,” mother added. This did not reassure me!

            Throughout the evening, we found ourselves up and down the steps multiple times as sirens sounded repeatedly. It was frightening and nerve-racking and I had probably never been more scared at any time previously.

            Then finally, as bed time approached, the sirens ended. We had survived!

            As I lay in bed relieved, finally beginning to relax, I heard a train in the distance. It got closer. And it did not have a whistle!

            I got up and told my parents. I implored them to take us downstairs, yet they didn’t listen. They hadn’t heard any sirens, and the television said the warnings were over. “Go to bed and quit worrying!” they told me.

            The next day, my school was abuzz about how a tornado wiped out two houses in the adjacent subdivision. One of my neighbors claimed to have seen the funnel cloud pass over our houses as it haphazzardly skipped its way across the county, randomly pouncing on victims’ homes. The destruction of the previous evening’s storms dominated the news.

            My parents loaded my brother and sister and I into the car to have a look at the houses that had been hit. We were awestruck to find two foundations surrounded by splintered lumber for as far as the eye could see. I did not immediately recognize what we saw as the remains of  houses.

            “I told you there was a tornado!” I exclaimed. “I heard a train without a horn, just like you said, and I told you there was a tornado coming. You didn’t believe me. That could have been us! I told you there was a tornado . . .”

            I do not recall my parents commenting. What could they really say?

 .

            Mark Twain said, “Some of the worst things in my life never even happened!” All too frequently, I have found myself jumping off the deep end over what might happen, only to find that I got all worked up over nothing. As time wears on, I find myself jumping off a bit less frequently. Nevertheless, such is my nature. I have grown to accept this, and I have learned to use this anxiety to my advantage. I do, afterall, consider it an ancient genetic trait, passed on through eons of generations, conducive to survival. And many times, my premonitions are right on the money.

            Frequently, I find that people just don’t listen to me when I see problems developing on the horizon,  just like when I was a child. And the worst thing about this is that despite my efforts to forewarn, take proactive action or avoid disaster, I frequently find myself cleaning up the mess when others fail to take heed. Perhaps I am just cancelled out by too many happy-go-lucky types.

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2 Responses to “In Praise of Proactive Paranoia”

  1. I absolutely love this story!!! My second favorite childhood story of yours!! Keep up the good work (writing)! I Love ya! mmmuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!! 😉

  2. How appropriate for the weather that we’ve been having lately. I think too many people (I’m so guilty of this too) think that it won’t happen to “them”, it’s always the other guy. We are taught very young that our worries don’t amount to anything and to just listen to the grown-ups and you’ll be okay, they’re the ones who know and have experience, which causes too much stress and anxiety in a little person that manifests into so much more. Take a proactive approach with your children and get to the root of the worries and anxiousness and then maybe, just maybe we would have less people on Valium and other benzodiazepines. Greeeeat story, sorry to banter like I did. Just got a little excited!


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