“I am confident that, in the end, common sense and justice will prevail.
I’m an optimist, brought up on the belief that if you wait to the end of the story, you get to see the good people live happily ever after. “
Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam
Well. I, frankly, cannot see how anyone could go through life without any optimism. I don’t see how anyone could live anything other than a fairly dismal life if all you did was embrace cynicism & skepticism. Fortunately, I do not believe many people are that completely dismal. I tend to believe most people believe common sense and justice may not always prevail, but certainly has better than even odds of prevailing in Life.
I actually think the bigger issue is that we sometimes feel suffocated by negativity and perceived ‘badness’ all around us. It can seem crushing on occasion. So crushing that it sometimes seems like it is more powerful than justice … and certainly more powerful than common sense.
That is why we need optimism.
Now. To be clear.
I am not an optimist. I am more a cynical optimist.
I am not a dreamer. I am more a pragmatic dreamer.
And, yes, I believe in hope, but, well, more a ‘lunch bucket” type hope. “Lunch bucket”?
Well. Certainly hope requires thinking. But thinking far too often remains just that … thinking … and no doing.
Lunch bucket hope is about putting in the work.
Lunch bucket hope is about full dreaming and not hollow promises.
Lunch bucket hope is about the harsh truths and not ignoring truths.
Lunch bucket hope is about recognizing ‘what is’ can change but ‘what will be’ will not happen magically.
This lunch bucket attitude combined with optimism, at its core, brings a belief that nothing may work. but that everything might work.
It is about understanding that there is no one silver bullet to solve something or to dramatically turn things around, but understanding that if you try 100 different things and each one makes even a little impact that there will be progress <and you get just a bit closer to what you hope>.
It is about recognizing that Life is rarely simple cause and effect and more likely a series of complex intertwined events <not chaos>.
It is about seeing that Life is always a work in progress where many times progress is difficult to distinguish from stagnancy.
It is about seeing that change, more often than not, is neither spectacular nor disruptive, but rather subtle nudges easily overlooked.
And … it is about only being confident that common sense and justice will prevail if you bring a lunch bucet attitude along with your optimism & hope.
I will admit.
I will admit.
My thoughts have a healthy respect for hope.
This permits my type of optimism to not be some kind-hearted pushover, but rather one capable of yelling, sharing hard feedback and resilient to a world which, very often, brings an even harsher cynicism.
My type of optimism defends the arc of history which embraces good against the attacks of bad … which relentlessly seek to slow the natural arc of progress.
And, yet, as I defend what I view a the good arc of history I bring a legitimate care for the world at large along with, what could be viewed as cold & harsh, a view in which I may simply see people as the actors on the stage of this greater world.
I do believe kindness & generosity differentiate performance; not successes & wins. This is not an easy task the pragmatic optimists take on. It demands that you have to do hard things and sometimes be hard in how you deal with Life … all the while keeping kindness in your heart.
I once used Jamie Varon’s words to say I am a professional aspirationalist. <That’s not a word, but I’ve made it into one, since there was nothing that could quite describe me because I didn’t want to say I’m a “professional dreamer” because that sounds like some hippie shit. I have aspirations, like, lots of them.>
“I am not afraid of my truth anymore and I will not omit pieces of me to make you comfortable.”
I believe being a professional aspirationalist helps me to be a little more confident that common sense & justice & ‘good’ will prevail in today’s world.
I believe this because professional aspirationalist is a compass and not a destination. It is a direction.
Aspirationalist is a moving target.
Being an aspirationalist means not only having dreams, but dreaming and, yet, I remain a pragmatic optimist. It means I am restlessly pursing what is good and better … relentlessly seeking, traveling, doing, thinking … professionally constantly in motion <mentally or physically>.
To be clear.
All of this is not for the faint of heart.
All of this is not easy.
All of this is often an eternal struggle against a shitload of negative forces in the world.
But. Isn’t all of that truly what being yourself is all about?
Isn’t Life, and living it, sort of about having some courage to suggest ‘I will not omit things just to make you comfortable’ and finding your own version of bravery?
“I am a world that cannot be explored in one day. I am not a place for cowards.”
I imagine my point is that today’s world, in general, is not a place and time for cowards.
In addition, being a pragmatic optimist means you are not a place for cowards. I say that because pragmatic optimism, professional aspirationalist, all these types of thoughts are not simply about being a dreamer, all these thoughts have rich & royal hues of reality threading its way through its fabric.
And you are forced to not be a coward because this pragmatic optimism demands people to think about dreaming, but also demands doing.
Pragmatically, we cynical optimists, aspirationalists as it were, do seek approval and acceptance and we do seek to actually do shit (albeit ‘good shit’).
Now … I could argue, whether you like it or not, whether you think it is right or wrong, in some form or fashion we all care.
We all care <not just aspirationalists> about all of this shit <and shit in general>.
We all care what the people around us think about us. And by people I mean everyone from those closest to you <who would most likely accept you in any shape and form you ended up in> to society overall.
And we all care about good shit happening rather than bad shit.
And we all care about providing some value to the world.
But maybe that is where being a cynical optimist, a practical dream, a professional aspirationalist has an edge in today’s world.
We do not seek solely finding value from proving ourselves to others.
We don’t accept solely finding value in and of ourselves.
We seek finding value in uncovering pragmatic ways that our optimism can come to Life.
The value resides in the fact that the proof exists in our optimism being vindicated.
In the end.
It may very well be my timeand the time for people who think as I do. We cynical optimists. And I am okay with that.
“It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, “Wait on time.”
Martin Luther King Jr.