01 November 2005

The Edge of Catastrophe

If I were to subject myself to the diagnostic skills of a psychologist, I believe the psychologist would conclude I suffer from Catastrophic Thinking. For me, the future doesn't cleave neatly into "best case" and "worst case" scenarios. Rather, the future is comprised of "catastrophe" and "near catastrophe." Thus, when my wife flies somewhere without me, I periodically check the headlines on CNN.com for the dreaded red banner of Breaking News: "Passenger Plane Missing Over Southern Kentucky." I also run her flight number through the flight status system on the airline's website. Once I see "Landed," I breathe a sigh of relief and return to other forms of furious procrastination.

For the Catastrophic Thinker, the Filofax presents a rare and intimidating set of risks. The electronic Device, for all its faults, cloned itself on my computer and ensured it could be brought back from the dead -- or recreated on a replacement Device -- with minimal effort. I have no clone of the Filofax, which now contains the one-and-only copy of my calendar, address book, checkbook register, and to-do lists. I could lose it. It could be stolen. I could drop it into the bathtub and watch all the ink bleed off its pages. My dog could eat it. My wife could get very upset with me about something and rip all its pages to shreds. I could be on a plane that crashes, and it could burn in the ensuing wreckage, even if I somehow survive. The Filofax is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Yet still I use it. Still I put more, and more, and more information in it. Still I make it the exclusive vessel for critical data. Why? Because I may be a Catastrophic Thinker, but even an anxiety-riddled hand-wringer like me enjoys the occasional thrill of risk. Ha! I stare fate in the face and say, "I dare you to take my Filofax from me. I scoff at your huffing and puffing about how you could reduce my life to tatters by stealing it. I shall stand firm in my resolve against you, fickle fate." And like a superhero, I continue to use the Filofax even while catastrophe nips at my heels, trying to snatch order and reason from my life.

Even so, I may some day just drop it off at Kinko's and say, "Copy this." If you could be either an anxiety-riddled superhero or a superhero with a backup plan, which would you be? That’s what I thought.

Some might say I should do something about my Catastrophic Thinking. But why cure the disease when you can treat the symptom?


  1. To increase your worries, you should take a look on the movie "Taking care of Business": A guy has lost his filofax and what happens to him after that...

  2. "Taking Care of Business" is my all-time favourite movie! And for the simple fact that the entire movie revolves around the Filofax.

    (I own VHS and DVD copies)

  3. Wanderingthinker, thanks. Catastrophic Thinking feeds on itself, so I'm always happy to find evidence that substantiates my worries.

  4. I think the more serious concern is losing a finger when those rings *snap* closed.

  5. In case there are any newcomers like me compulsively reading 2005 Philofaxy posts, I reverted to paper 4 years ago after tech support at work erased all data from my Palm and PC. Whoops, sorry, he said. So I don't think we are at greater risk for catastrophe with our Filos in hand.


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