I am, by nature, an optimist. From time to time I get exorcized by one thing or another but aside from a momentary rant — often in my blog — I return to a life lived with service in mind, with good thoughts about where I’m headed (after all I can’t do much about where the country or the world is headed) and I try to make others feel good along the way in any way I can.
Some days are easier than others. And the last year has been the hardest year of my life to consistently see the good and try (unsuccessfully) to ignore the bad/insane untruths and scandals. I guess that’s why I have no problem letting off 15 or 20 minutes worth of steam so that the rest of my day can be profitable — which is to say, optimistic.
We had a local TV celebrity named Gordon Hinckley. When he retired from the air I was conscious of the fact that he was still selling his celebrity by hosting Cruise tours. And then I lost touch with his identity until just recently. I like this quotation attributed to him: “That which comes easily departs easily. That which comes of struggle remains.” Perhaps that’s not universally true but it’s true a good part of the time. The trees with the deepest roots — sunk over a long time — have the least to fear of storms and unrest. They are well “rooted” and that’s the gist of the Hinckley quotation. Time and struggle enable us to have a perspective on the world that outlasts the temporary fluctuations around us.
The thing about those temporary fluctuations is that they can distract us from our goal. That’s why I would rather vent my frustration for a few minutes so I can return my attention to what I want out of life, or where I want to be at the end of any given day. Even if our destination is uncertain, or vaguely sketched out in our mind — we can still be pursuing it each and every day, in each and every way available to us.
I’m writing this half way through the Olympic games and I remember a day or two ago it was said about one of the luge athletes that his medal was the achievement of a 16 year long goal. And some of us are fortunate to have goals that take that long to fulfill. Living with that kind of singlemindedness is a blessing. I might not choose to be so single-minded about luging. That’s a personal choice, but this guy was and that’s all that mattered to him. He saw himself on the podium and he wasn’t about to stop until he got there.
I got caught up watching the Snowboard Cross event because there you have siz athletes starting down a course at once and the course is rugged enough that racers fall during the race. In one heat the objective was to be among the first three finishers of the heat; and during the race all but two racers fell. It worked out that the third person to move forward from that heat happened to be the racer who was the FIRST one to fall at almost the beginning of the race! He ended up moving forward because he didn’t give up even though he appeared to have been the least likely finisher. Stick-to-it-iveness matters. Not giving up matters.
I think it’s the same about being optimistic. Just because one day doesn’t go well, doesn’t mean something is lost. Just because there’s a hole in a a boat doesn’t mean the boat will sink. If you can bale out enough water you can still make it back to shore. If good people will stand up against lies and deceit then the truth will win. If those who obey the law hold those who don’t accountable society will survive. It’s all about whether optimissm will succeed over pessimism.
One of the movements within the country right now that troubles me the most is the step by step undoing of decades of environmental protection. A lot of regulations can be cut which impact just a few, but the vandalism that we are allowing — even encouraging corporations to engage in is one kind of vandalism that hurts us all.
Yeah…. somethings are harder to ignore than others.