I’ve been thinking recently about dissatisfaction as an engine for progress. My trusty OED refers to discontent in describing dissatisfaction, that is, a lack of contentment. If you look up discontent in turn, the word restlessness is used. That I think is the key – if a person is not content with how things are and is restless, then change can occur. If we were all perfectly content with our world, then very little would get done.
Crankiness is a different matter. Crankiness is merely “ill-temper or crotchety” while grumpy is defined as “morosely irritable or surly.” There is a fine line between dissatisfaction and grumpiness and it can be difficult to stay in the camp of discontent. After all, that restlessness can chase you very quickly to the side of ill-temper and inaction.
And I have been grumpy, not just discontent for several weeks. So I have achieved very little other than perhaps a greater familiarity with my dictionary. It has been one of the few things that have wanted to spend time with me recently. I’m trying to inch slowly towards being merely discontent and using that to motivate myself to accomplish something, anything.
These are the things I have been thinking about as I drive around running errands although I did not use the dictionary while driving. For one thing, it is hard to shift gears when you are turning the pages of the OED (even the concise one) and for another, the infamous Click and Clack aka Tom and Ray Magliozzi would then have been on my case. Even from the other side of the world, a driving misdemeanour of such magnitude would tweak their finely tuned radars. And then I would have something to really worry about.