My dad told me a story from his youth about hitting a skunk at night while driving his father’s car. When he got home and climbed out of the car, the skunk smell was strong. He smelled of skunk. He knew his mother would ask questions.
This is not good, he thought.
I’ve had that same thought; said the same thing when something went wrong: This is not good.
Like my dad, I don’t say, this is bad.
Why is that?
This is bad is shorter. To the point. Clear. Definitive. The opposite of not good is bad. Right?
But this is bad somehow sounds worse. There’s good and there’s bad and this is bad is clearly bad.
This is not good subtly leaves open possibilities other than bad. Maybe this thing that is not good is actually…maybe…great? Not good slows down thinking; interrupts a clear and definitive conclusion of bad.
It gives some wiggle room; buys some time with the inner Judge.
Maybe that sounds like fuzzy logic, but it works for rice cookers, so I’ll take it.
And…I never learned how the skunk story ended.
But my dad survived.