“Let every man in mankind’s frailty
Consider his last day; and let none
Presume on his good fortune until he find
Life, at his death, a memory without pain.”
Those are the last lines of Oedipus Rex, quoted by Anna North in a NYT online oped column about people who can’t experience joy without worrying about future pain. And maybe worry is not such a bad thing.
Perhaps both optimism and pessimism are OK, according to today’s Hebrew Bible verse, chosen at random and printed in the Moravian Daily Text
The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse—who can understand it? I the Lord test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways. Jeremiah 17:9-10
It is paired by a Moravian author with this New Testament verse.
Whenever our hearts condemn us; God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 1 John3:20
Therapists generally try to “cure” those with a fear of happiness, citing Norman Vincent Peale and his ilk. But we pessimists (I am notoriously one, married to an unquenchable optimist) feel validated by the new theories of defensive pessimism. After all, if WE don’t worry, who WILL save the world/ our family/ our future? Who will accomplish change? The world, our families, need both optimists and pessimists.
Direction might be found in this prayer, again from the Moravian Daily Text today:
Gracious Comforter, remind us that you know us better than we know ourselves. So when we are filling the voids in our lives or are in need of a change, help us look to you for what we need.