optimism

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Apropos of nothing – NYC CAB!

Two years ago, I asked my mom, “What’s something I’ve done since I was a kid that I still do now?”

I figured she’d think about it for a while and maybe she’d come up with something. Or maybe she’d say, “What do you mean?” and I’d have to explain something I hadn’t really thought through.

Instead, she said straight away, “You jump off the last step.”

I recognized that as something I do now, because I like flying for a second, and jumping is fun, but, “Really? I’ve been doing that since I was a kid?”

She nodded.

It just goes to show: 1) your parents are sometimes the best expert on you, and 2) there are some things we do all the time that we’re just not conscious of.

Today, some thoughts on optimism!

So I told that story up there so it’d make more sense when I say: I don’t know if I’ve always been optimistic. I’m leaning toward “nope” if only because I have some very resolute adolescent and teenage memories of running headlong into life-walls and then complaining relentlessly until someone talked me down out of my whinging tree. I had some optimistic moments, of course, but for the most part I enjoyed complaining.

At some point, though, I realized that I didn’t like the defeated feeling that came from ending a conversation with, “This sucks.” I didn’t like carrying around that negativity, because fortunately and unfortunately, I take a lot to heart and I rehash a lot of worries that I should just let go. So that negativity often latched on like a face-hugging alien and wouldn’t let go. I much preferred starting with “This sucks” and moving onto the things that didn’t suck, like the fact that by doing this thing I didn’t want to do, I’d see something new/experience something to change my viewpoint/make a new friend.

To be honest, the more I think about it, I think I like being optimistic because it’s challenging.

Contrary to what some may think, optimism is not easy. Sometimes it takes incredible strength for a person to look at a lifelong home that’s just burned to the ground and think of anything good that could come from such a thing. On a smaller scale, it can take an equal amount of strength for another person to wake up and think, “Today will be a good day.”

Sometimes I like when unfortunate things happen, and I’ll explain why. One time, at my old job, someone from personnel arrived to observe the toddler-level English classes I was teaching at the time. I was surprised to see him, since teachers at that company were told we’d only be observed once a year, and when I told my coworker this he looked deeply apologetic. He offered to leave, to tell the head office their mistake, but I thought that sounded like a wasted trip for him, so I told him he could stay. He seemed nice, and the kids I was teaching were all great and well-behaved, so I didn’t mind him watching my classes. Afterward, he thanked me, and I was mildly confused as to why. He explained that a lot of other people would have been angry to be put in that situation, and so he was grateful that I hadn’t eaten his throat out with metal shark teeth.

I like being nice to people, as obvious as that sounds. I like that moment when people are clearly expecting a tirade and you give them a smile instead. I like lifting people’s spirits. I like making people smile.

And now that I’ve established my secret identity as a Care Bear, I begin a lighthearted journey to the bed two feet away, onto which I shall flip.

That’s another thing I can do, actually, because I was optimistic.

When I was eleven, I optimistically tried to do a flip onto my bed. And I can totally still do it because I optimistically trusted myself not to break my own neck, so I got a lot of practice in my room.

There you go, folks. Optimism means the ability to do a flip.

Take that, Grumpy Bear.

 

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