I’ll wear my cynicism like a tattoo

This post was written on 2013-11-07 and revised, updated, and published on 2016-08-06 for some reason.

Seth Godin posts some great daily insight into marketing, business, and life methodologies and practices. I enjoy reading his stuff because he somehow always knows how to cut to the core of an issue in ways that aren’t always conventional.

The selfish cynic:

Cynics are hard to disappoint. Because they imagine the worst in people and situations, reality rarely lets them down. Cynicism is a way to rehearse the let-downs the world has in store–before they arrive.

And the cynic chooses this attitude at the expense of the group. Because he can’t bear to be disappointed, he shares his rehearsed disappointment with the rest of us, slowing down projects, betting on lousy outcomes and dampening enthusiasm.

Someone betting on the worst outcomes is going to be correct now and then, but that doesn’t mean we need to have him on our team. I’d rather work with people brave enough to embrace possible futures at the expense of being disappointed now and then.

Don’t expect kudos or respect for being a cynic. It’s selfish.

This is so difficult for me to apply in life. I struggle daily with not being cynical about life or work or music or health. It’s just not a good place to be in.

It also brings to mind a Glen Hansard quote that I have written in my songwriting notebook, “I’ve always felt that if I ever got cynical, I would have to stop making music because I’d just be poisoning the air.”

The title of this post is a line from “Song for the Road,” by another songwriter, David Ford. Here is a live version where he explains some of the background for the song:

Well the day casts down
Lengthy shadows on unfamiliar towns
I drove 300 miles from the place I call home
And I tip my hat to the angel of the North

And the sun sets fire to the heavens
On the hills over Sheffield tonight
And I’ll sail over this countryside with new friends and old
And we are no where, but man, we’re alright

So you can keep your belief in whatever
I’ll wear my cynicism like a tattoo
While poets try to engineer definitions of love
You know all I can think of is you

And I can’t wait to see you on Sunday
Far from the traffic and the smoke and the noise
For this evening I will play back every message that you sent
So I can sleep to the sound of your voice

Now I don’t like using words like forever
But I will love you til the end of today
And in the morning when I remember everything that you are
I know I’ll fall for you over again

I know someday this all will be over
And it’s hard to say what most I will miss
Just give me one way to spend my last moments alive
And I’ll choose this, I’ll choose this, I’ll choose this
I’ll choose this, I’ll choose this, I’ll choose this
I’ll choose this, I’ll choose this, I’ll choose this

Living without cynicism is hard for me, but I know that it is not a good mindset to be in.


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