The Power of Negative Thinking

I was born in 1953.  Men born in that year were the last group to be subject to the military draft in the United States.  There was a lottery system  and each year numbers were drawn.  If your birthday was in the 300s, you were off the hook.  If your number was 10, you were on your way to Vietnam pretty soon.  My number was 83 and I felt like there was a good chance I’d be drafted.  My good buddy’s number was 49.  Everyone up to number 25 was drafted almost immediately, and everyone up to 75 was called for their physical, which my buddy took and passed.  It seemed to him inevitable that military service would interrupt whatever activity he undertook, so rather than go to college or seek a "real job", he worked at a gas station, toured on his motorcycle, and more or less  just "marked time" until Uncle Sam should call him up.

As it turned out, the Selective Service Act expired and has not (yet) been renewed.  Because my friend was so sure that he would be drafted, he pretty much wasted a year of his life doing things that he really didn’t feel were worthwhile.

In 1991, Iben Browning predicted that a major earthquake would rock the New Madrid fault in early December.  Local folks packed up their valuables and stockpiled canned goods and bottled water.  Many families left town during the week of predicted disaster. So many planned to leave that the schools closed, anticipating such a meager attendance.  Once the schools announced they would be closed, my wife took the kids to Branson to see the Christmas lights (and escape the big quake, maybe).  I stayed behind, hoping to salvage my home, while looting the homes of my absent friends and neighbors.  Of course, the big quake never arrived, and some seismologists now believe it never will, that the fault is quieting down. 

The weird thing to me was the number of pet-owners in November, December and January who put off much-needed procedures for their pet "…until after the earthquake."

This was brought to my mind by an experience I had this week.  "Cinnamon" came in to see me because her breath (and teeth and gums) was awful.  I thought that Cinnamon had gone to a new doctor or passed on, as I had not seen her for three years.  Three years ago, we removed her spleen because it a had a mass on it which turned out to be malignant.  The tumor was a hemangiosarcoma: a malignant tumor made of cancerous blood-vessels.  It doesn’t have a great prognosis.  While you can remove the spleen and live just fine without it, the cancer has usually begun to spread already through the animal’s bloodstream.  When my Golden Retriever, Buster, had the same situation, the cancer had already become widespread before we detected anything abnormal.  After removal of his spleen, he recovered great from surgery, but didn’t last for three weeks.  We lost him when he was only eight years old.

With that kind of back-story, Cinnamon’s owner just figured that it was futile to do much of anything else to or for the dog, since she would be dying soon anyway. 

Well,what do you know?  We had gotten to Cinnamon in time.  She’s still alive three years later, and doing pretty well, except for that mouth.  Thanks to the power of negative thinking, her mouth is a sewer. 

You know, we’re all going to die sometime.  Why not just take care of business in the meantime?  Sometimes things work out better than you think: no draft, no earthquake, no cancer. 

Dum vivamus vivamus  [while we live, let us live!]

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