Sunday, November 1, 2009

In Search of...some optimism in trying times

It's Sunday, and if it's Sunday it's usually politics day on my blog. But I've been too depressed lately about the healthcare bill to write about politics, and so I thought I'd write about something else - optimism. President Obama got elected on the wings of it - hope, change, and the audacity to talk about it, expect it, and make it happen.

Before you think I'm having a pep rally for the president, let me just say this. It's easier to be pessimistic, cynical, and hopeless. Look at the world around us. It's easy to see the darkness, the evil, the greed, and what's gone wrong. It is much more challenging to see light amidst the darkness, and order within the chaos. It is easy to see the futility. It is hard to see the point.

Maybe you're in a situation that you don't know how you'll find your way out of. Or maybe life as you knew it is simply over. I think most of us have felt that way for the better part of this past year. Maybe you've suffered the loss of a job or a career or a marriage and you can't for the life of you see how things will possibly get better. Maybe they won't.

So what's the value of optimism, and what is it exactly? Is it seeing the glass half full even when half the liquid in it is clearly gone? Is it losing sight of reality just long enough to be able to hang on for another day? Is it holding out false hopes and pipe dreams that will never come to pass? Is it pasting on a smile while you feel like you're crumbling on the inside?

Here's my answer to all the above questions - no. For my money, optimism is allowing for a different possibility than you can currently see. It is knowing that no situation, no matter how great or how awful, lasts forever and so "this too shall pass" - whatever it is. Optimism is not negating what is. It is finding the value in it. Sometimes that value is in the form of character traits that we develop out of necessity when we would give anything not to have had to develop those traits in the first place. Sometimes the value is in the different trajectory our lives take from our plans. Sometimes the value is in who we become, because what happens to us is not always within our control, but who we become because of it is.

It is easy to place blame and easy to be angry. Sometimes both those things are warranted, but warranted or not, they don't forge a path to anything but destruction, and haven't we had enough of that already?

So call me what you will, I am choosing right now in this time of seemingly insurmountable challenges to believe in the possibility that those challenges might be met and conquered in ways I cannot yet conceive of. I am choosing to believe that while my own thinking may at times be limited, there are no limits to what can happen for the better with a willing and receptive spirit and mind. It is not naive to believe such things. It is rather the only way I know to create fertile soil in which something new, wonderful, and unexpected can grow.

Life is a gift that's on loan to us, so if we're still here then we've got something to give and something to receive. We've got times of both sorrow and joy ahead and the strength to make it through whatever road happens to be ours to walk.

Whatever road you are walking, I wish you safe travels filled with good times and much love along the way. Thanks for stopping by.

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