I am at the age which qualifies me to be an authentic curmudgeon. It is possible for this state of mind to devolve into becoming a crosspatch. The difference matters, regarding interpersonal relationships and personal well-being.
You might say a curmudgeon is like the late Andy Rooney and a crosspatch is like Vladimir Lenin. We usually think of curmudgeons as cantankerous old men. We don’t really have a handle on crosspatches, because crosspatch is an obsolete, arcane word. You might say that a crosspatch is a curmudgeonly person who has crossed the line into mainly becoming an irritable person.
Mark Twain was one of the most curmudgeonly men to grace the land of North America. He has written that there were many times he had to hold his tongue to keep from becoming an irritable crank. If a brilliant mind such as Twain’s is capable of becoming a crosspatch, anyone can.
On the spectrum from Pollyanna to crosspatch, curmudgeons are very close to the crosspatch extreme. Both extremes can be quite unpleasant. Pollyannas never remove their rose-colored glasses and view every situation as deriving from unicorn magic. Pollyannas are so optimistic they seem to have lost touch with reality. Mentally visualize a Pollyanna, then think of the polar opposite; that is a crosspatch. Crosspatches are so pessimistic they also seem to have lost touch with the real world.
We’re all capable of thinking in terms of both extremes. The Pollyanna whose perky positive thinking sets herself up for letdowns and heartbreak. The crosspatch whose gloom and doom fails to see the inherent goodness of humanity. Most people find themselves in between these two with frequent fluctuations that are situationally relevant.
Due to the onslaught of negative situations such as the re-eruption of fascism in the world, to the runaway fires in Australia, it is tempting to think of life in the manner of a crosspatch. Perhaps there are some Pollyannas out there who see the silver linings to these scenarios, but I don’t personally know any.
In my opinion, the most effective point of view in relation to today’s most challenging situations is curmudgeonliness. A curmudgeon can see the dire seriousness present today without falling prey to defeatism. A curmudgeon is akin to Paul Revere warning us to take positive action. A curmudgeon is an alert realist.
In this day and age, I try to err on the side of curmudgeonliness.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Albert Einstein. “When you look at yourself from a universal standpoint, something inside always reminds or informs you that there are bigger and better things to worry about.”