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Roots of Rancor & Petals of Poison

Updated: Mar 2

Cynicism vs. Optimism

Thursday, January 12th, 2023


After my last entry, I found a substantial splinter of myself that seemed to disapprove of pieces of its themes, though not all. I’ve no doubt that “critical” is the correct word to describe my perception of the world, much less of those inside it, but that entry’s foundations appeared … faulty. After rereading it, I’ve concluded that its support is unstable as if an army of unseen termites were eating away at its floorboards.

Once I had written it, I felt bled—I felt diluted as if some strange fragment of me started breaking apart like ash. Is it possible that the criticism and judgment I so easily dispensed and wielded on my peers drained me? But in what manner, emotionally or psychologically? A tough question, but an amusing one to say the least.

This note will be different. Yes, it must be different because I fear the cynicism and judgment the previous one so sharply portrayed. After all, any fool can criticize, so no matter the catharsis I find in any of these entries, I pray I’ll always contend with my pessimism. When it manages to worm its way through my own writing or stem from my own thoughts, that contention will be tenfold.

“Women compare themselves to rubies and men, themselves to gold—but, in reality, they’re more like coal. Nothing but the fuel to pursue their own pleasures and impulses.” Like an unfinished breath, my writing felt incomplete in that moment. Do I really believe that of everyone? Is that how I chalk up those around me—so simply and hollow? Surely, I must believe the opposite. Surely, there must be something I’m missing.

Am I but a swine, then, who knows not the worth of a pearl cast into the mud? Am I only a cock who flicks aside a jewel for that of a single kernel? Am I merely a dragon whose ignorance cannot discern the value of a diamond against a stone? No, no, I can’t be. Then it’s indefinite, there is something I’m missing; I just have to find it.

Perhaps there existed a reason in the first place that women were compared to rubies and men to gold. Perhaps, by some miracle, the comparison possesses at least some truth to it. Yes, even as I write this, I can feel the faith mending inside my chest like rekindling a fire.

Whether it be their kindness, creativity, or intelligence, I know most people are more than just a wanting for pleasure. I know they can be compassionate. I know they can be hopeful. I know they can be good. At the very least, maybe I’m just looking in the wrong direction for the right people.

My conscience is clear, then. I must take my own advice and acknowledge that all of my judgments are only thoughts, an intrinsic byproduct of neurons and chemicals. And so, they will rest on the beauty of us all rather than of our flaws.

Still, something frightens me; what is this disconnect that’s fastened between my peers and me? Why do our behaviors and desires seem to differ so greatly? I’m afraid I have to reflect on these questions for a long, long while. Yes, the gulf between their answers might unnerve me, but maybe time might offer me some new perspectives.

Though I’ve refreshed a thin line I had crossed among my own conceptions, maybe I must first reconcile the idea that people are as marvelous as rubies and as precious as gold to find any answers. So too, people are likely much more than words can attest, albeit ones that compare to metals and gems. A shame that mere words are my sole hammer and anvil. If only they alone were to smith the truth, the world would be a simpler place.

I hope with some reconciliation I will not betray my past self again. I will cut out from my conscience cynicism’s roots of rancor and petals of poison; this much I will make certain. Perhaps then, I will know better than to fall into the cold pit of cynicism a second time and perceive its bait and lure before it can seize me once more.

Translation: If the dark wolf is cynicism and the light wolf is optimism, we must choose which to feed carefully.

Addendum (1.31.23)

As I read over this piece along with its predecessor, I still find myself jumping back and forth between which I agree more. While I can't deny I had felt something draining after writing The Mask of Pleasure, I can't say I still feel its toll. That being the case, I hope someone might one day push me off this hellish fence.

Addendum (2.11.24)

I see the love all around me, and it's beautiful. I pray to God I maintain this view of people, because the delight I've found in it is breathtaking.

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