GNH Lumber-Outdoor Living-JUNE 2024

Whittling Away: Feeling contrary


By Dick Brooks

For Capital Region Independent Media  

Headshot of a man named Dick Brooks.

I woke up this morning feeling a little out of sorts. 

I didn’t sleep well last night and got up early to face a cold, damp, dismal dawn, which didn’t help the mood.

I wasn’t feeling grumpy or grouchy. It wasn’t the crabby feeling that sometimes distorts my usually sunny disposition. I sat with a cup of coffee and had a think about it. I decided that I was feeling contrary. I haven’t felt contrary for some time. 

Contrary is different than crabby or grumpy. Contrary is when you just don’t want to do something, you have no good reason for not doing it, in fact, sometimes it’s something that is good for you or something that you know you should do but you just don’t want to do it. 

The best example I can come up with is a 2-year-old being told it’s nap time. You know you’re tired, you’d really like to take one, but you just don’t want to, so you don’t.

Having identified the mood of the day and having seen The Queen off to work, I started to focus on the morning news on the television. It was full of the usual junk — green this and green that, oil prices, global warming, recycling and so on. Being in a contrary mood I remembered that in some Indian tribes there were folks who were called “Contraries.” They were contrary about everything, wearing their clothing backward, walking backward, shaking their head from side to side when they agreed with something and up and down when they disagreed, and yet they were accepted in their society and considered useful since they presented a view on topics that maybe the other members of the tribe wouldn’t have considered without them.

I decided to think like a “Contrary” and see what I could come up with.

I think I figured out a solution to all the major problems of mankind. We have the technology, we could make it work. We need to stop conserving oil. We need to use it up as fast as we can. Outlaw things like hybrid or electric cars, make every citizen in the U.S. of A. drive a Hummer, muscle car or a ‘53 Buick Special.

Don’t allow more than one person in a car at a time. Crank your thermostats up to “Bake,” why be chilly? Have everything double bagged in plastic at the market. Use up all the oil we can; there is only so much left so let’s use it while we can. Sure, global warming will increase and the average temperature of the Earth goes up six or seven degrees — it wouldn’t be the first time. Some of the Earth will become deserts, other parts will become rain forests — let people move, like they had to do in the past. New York City and Long Island would be underwater — people say that like it’d be a bad thing!

No more oil, there’d be less conflict in the Middle East. I kind of enjoy thinking about some of these sheiks, who have been holding the world hostage with their oil, sitting there with nothing but sand as their major export.

No more oil wouldn’t be such a tragedy, watch how fast the car makers come up with fuel cells or good batteries so we can have reliable transportation without pollution.  Solar and wind power would become an economically feasible reality really quickly.  Geothermal and tidal energy would get the attention they deserve, recycling would become a necessity, not just something that was done to make you look sociably responsible. 

The major oil companies would have to spend some of the piles of money they’ve gouged on developing other sources of income, who knows what they could come up with? I can see possibilities in this “going against the grain” kind of thinking.

It’s been fun, I’d recommend trying it to anyone. I think I’ll go take a nap, though, so I’m in a good mood for The Queen when she comes home. I prefer that she didn’t become contrary!

Thought for the week — “Don’t worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you.” ~ Winston Churchill

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

Reach columnist Dick Brooks at

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