How to Be a Paranoid Optimist!

I have an active imagination with scenarios constantly swinging from horrific to heroic–I call it Paranoid Optimism. It’s the Murphy’s Law of spirituality: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, but fortunately it’s all for the best. As a kid this thinking helped me fall asleep by assuming that the monster under my bed could beat the crap out of anyone in the closet.

I don’t see the glass as half-empty; I see it as half-full–of cyanide, tipping over and shattering. Luckily one of the shards of glass slashes the foot of the thug about to mug me.  As I bandage him up, I tell him it was no accident that we met. He’s been living in scarcity and should try on the notion of abundance. We become friends; he ends up selling me health insurance. Grateful for my saving his life, he gives me an affordable policy.

My current health insurance is the public option—an emergency room in Mexico. It’s a better deal than my last HMO–if I were ever diagnosed with cancer they’d send me to a taxidermist, and not even one of my choosing. For eye care they sent me to an Optimist, who kept telling me everything was fine.

I am a hypochondriac, a disease for which there is no known cure. You can’t go wrong being a hypochondriac; every week I leave the doctor’s office with good news. SeeI believe every pain near my heart is an oncoming heart attack. My left arm is constantly numb from testing it every three minutes. As soon as I read about an illness or medical condition, I develop the symptoms. I’ve endured hepatitis, chlamydia, and sickle cell anemia. I am a survivor . . . of my own delusions.

I’m only able to picture the best after I’ve assumed the worst. When I get a headache I think: tumor! But then I see the silver lining. You’ve heard of good cholesterol? Well I could be the first person to get good cancer.

When I see a doctor, after the tests he’ll call to say, “Paul, are you sitting down?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Well, you’d better stand up. I’ve never had news like this before.”

“I don’t have cancer?”

“Oh, no, you have cancer; your body is riddled with cancer. But somehow it’s a good cancer. Your cancer burns fat and builds muscle.”

They will name my miraculous cancer after me. Doctors will break the news this way: “Sir, you’re lucky. You have Paul Lyons cancer. It’s an abnormal growth–in consciousness. You can get out of bed every morning and move your body any way you like.”

“But, Doc, can’t everyone do that?”

“Sure, but how many do?”

“What about my heart palpitations?”

“Why, that’s opportunity knocking! Wait till you meet the nurse who works the defibrillator.”

One thought on “How to Be a Paranoid Optimist!

  1. Kristene Wallis

    This is really about “Driving Myself Sane” (which had no comment box): My husband is one of those “don’t let ’em in” drivers and that drives ME insane! It happened again last night. We were in bumper-to-bumper, creeping-along traffic on Laurel Canyon when some poor fool made the mistake of turning left from a side street into the center divider next to us. The more he tried to enter our lane, the more Grumpy edged him out, until I finally said, “What the hell are you doing?” “He’s cheating,” was the reply, “trying to pass everyone illegally!” “No, he isn’t,” I said. “He just turned onto Laurel.” I had to pull the Gideon’s Bible out of the glove compartment and swear on it that what I had told him was the truth. Then I spit three times, sprinkled salt over my back and pinched my nose until I turned blue. He let the car in. We watched as the car veered into the right turn only lane, sped up and passed six cars ahead of us, then swerved back into our lane. He was cheating AND he was winning. “Let’s follow him home and egg his house!” I yelled. “Did ya bring the eggs?” Grumpy asked. “Don’t I always?”


    P.S. After reading these posts, Paul, I REALLY want you to join us when you can. THEY’RE HYSTERICAL!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *