Tracker Pixel for Entry

​The other shoe

Live and Learn | July 6th, 2016

By Elizabeth Nawrot

nawrot@mnstate.edu

I look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite painting. It bursts with vibrant orange-red and bold strokes of black accented with blue geometrics, a study in contrast to my sad little plate of pale eggs and limp sausage. Even the toast just sits there, baffled by the juxtaposition of the mundane and the extraordinary. What are the chances that with stock hotel art consisting mostly of gilded ferns and pastel beaches I would happen upon this unconventional beauty?

My trip so far has included the usual travel atrocities: Mechanical delays, the boarding cattle-call, incredibly expensive airport sandwich (incredibly tiny airplane peanut package), and the typical parade of passenger peccadillos, from the loud cellphone conversation to the cranky baby. The pleasantly surprising Kandinsky print suggests that things are looking up -- and that bothers me.

I am a pessimist, and not just with regard to travel but as a state of mind, a personality trait. Like Candide, I'm a firm believer that optimism is “The obstinacy of maintaining that everything is best when it is worst.” If things are going well, then something must be wrong and so I live in a constant state of waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Research shows that pessimism can actually shorten your lifespan. Psychologists who study the so-called Big Five personality traits- like introversion, conscientiousness, and neuroticism -- find that a tendency to view the glass as half-empty can negatively impact longevity.

For example, you've probably heard about the competitive Type A personality, but that sort of ambition comes at a cost. Type A individuals are more likely to suffer heart attacks than their more carefree Type B counterparts. Attitude might even affect cancer survival rates. A British study of nearly 600 women with breast cancer found that patients who expressed a “fighting spirit” were less likely to have relapses than those who reported pessimism or hopelessness.

There are plenty of longevity tests (easy to find online) that use factors such as personality as well as lifestyle, family history, and other demographics to estimate individual lifespan. According to some, a pessimistic personality could sap a whole year from your lifespan, less than smoking but more than being a teetotaler. It turns out that drinking in moderation may actually be better for you than complete abstinence, a result that gleefully led my husband to quit jogging and take up cocktail hour.

I have tried music and art to manage stress, another notorious longevity saboteur, but I’m no Kandinsky. His art seems to express an almost musical composition. Supposedly he heard musical tones as he painted, reporting that yellow was like middle C played on a trumpet. I guess I don’t have Kandinsky’s sensation-blending synesthesia, except of course for Cyndi Lauper’s voice, which sounds exactly like orange jello with whipped cream and pop-rocks (seriously, listen to “True Colors”…).Onboard the flight home, I stab at the reading light only to find that it's inexplicably aimed behind my head. The flight attendant apologizes and assures me that she will inform the captain (so that’s what they meant by mechanical difficulties).

Thus unable to keep up on “Celebrities: They’re Just Like Us” and “Who Wore It Best?” I lean into the window for a nap. The passenger behind me has similar plans and stretches out, unbelievably managing to thread one leg up between my armrest and the window, her bare foot coming to rest just shy of my elbow-chinrest. I guess you could say that the other shoe has officially dropped. On top of that, the plane sits delayed on the tarmac so I’m sure to miss my connection.

But wait, the connecting flight turns out to be late, too. Maybe things are looking up after all? Damn.

Recently in:

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comJason Sole may have an impressive resume as a Criminal Justice professor, past president of the Minneapolis NAACP, founder of movements and initiatives, national restorative justice trainer, author,…

By Michael M. Miller  michael.miller@ndsu.eduGermans from Russia Heritage Collection, NDSU Libraries, Fargo,…

Sons of Norway, Kringen Lodge #4-25, is a fraternal organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Norwegian culture.Sentrum på 722 2nd Ave N, FargoKringen Kafe er åpen for Kaffe og Bakverk mandag-fredag 9.00 til…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comOur opinion: Let our character and characters define usIt’s no secret that North Dakota is one of our nation’s least visited states, in fact I can think of a handful of folks I’ve chatted…

By Ed Raymondfargogadfly@gmail.com Good or Bad Sex Ends Up Controlling and Winning the Numbers GameSex Bio-ethnics Professor Katie Watson says a woman who regularly has sex once a week or more during her reproductive years will…

Well shiver me timbers. After weeks of sampling some of the finest drinks in F-M from more bars than we could shake a belaying pin at, the results of High Plains Reader’s 6th Annual Cocktail Showdown are in! For nine weeks,…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com“If you had talked to me five years ago or even a year ago and told me I was gonna be a chef in Fargo I probably would have looked at you pretty funny. It's wild where food is taking me in…

By Sabrina Hornung and Jr Lacroixsabrina@hpr1.comProf Comes to Town With a New Album, 'Powderhorn Suites'Minneapolis-based rapper Prof has undergone a number of changes within a short amount of time. Abruptly dropped from the…

By Greg Carlsongregcarlson1@gmail.comMaureen Bharoocha’s “Golden Arm” applies the irresistible combination of long-haul trucking and competitive arm wrestling in the tradition of Menahem Golan’s 1987 Sylvester Stallone cult…

By Sarah Noursacha1689.sc@gmail.comOn Sunday, November 7th, the Spirit Room will hold a reception for “Contaminated Nightmares,” their current exhibition of mixed-media pieces by local artist and musician Adam Bursack. This…

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comDrag shows, for me, feel like a celebration of artistry, esthetic, music, and camaraderie. With a dash of confetti thrown in.The local drag community is a close-knit family. Giving back to affiliated…

by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comAdam Quesnell's last show at The Cellar beneath the Front Street Taproom in Fargo was in early September of 2018. He was embarking on a seminal move from Minneapolis to LA. As always, his comedy was…

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comSpring is here (mostly), and our area is buzzing with people eager to get back out and about -- many newly vaccinated and feeling a bit safer. Partnering with Jade Events, Fargo Brewing is just…

by Laurie J Bakeremsdatter@gmail.com Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

By Theresa L. Goodrichsubmit@hpr1.comIt was day ten of our epic southwest road trip and we’d made it to Arizona. After camping in Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and New Mexico, we were exhausted, but fortunately our night in…

by Annie Prafckesubmit@hpr1.com17 June 2021On June 19th, from 12pm to 7pm, nonprofit Faith4Hope Scholarship Fund is hosting their first ever Juneteenth Freedom Celebration at Lindenwood Park in Fargo. It is free and open to the…