Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Give me a good reason not to be optimistic."

That's what he said. I sat there, at a loss for words. Well, I could have said anything. I could have said "onions" or "my cat has been more affectionate lately" or "ta da!" I wasn't at a loss for words. I was at a loss for a good reason not to be optimistic.

I've been feeling enormous optimism of late. It's not part of my normal repertoire. It feels odd, like wearing beautiful clothes that I look and feel good in, but am not used to.

Pessimism is rather like worrying. One thinks it's a good strategy, as if worrying or thinking of worst case scenarios is some kind of protection, but neither way of being in the world has much going for it. They both cause needless suffering. They both sap one's energy. And neither achieve the goal of protecting oneself from whatever negative events might occur in the future.

Living one's life from a place of fear sucks. I searched for a nicer way to put it, but I gave up.

My dear readers who have traveled with me a while, you know how far down I've been. I've had an epiphany. There's no doubt about it. I want to be clear about one thing. I am not preaching. It's impossible to drag others into their own epiphanies. I've been exposed to enough information about strategies for improving one's life to last a couple of lifetimes at least. They've all been helpful, but in the end, it's rather a bit of a crap shoot whether one is going to wake up to reality. Oh, and I'm sure I have plenty more waking up to do yet - I'm not an enlightened being (at least I don't think so)!

Today, as I struggled with a more physical pain than usual, and the accompanying tiredness, I notice how I'm just being with it.
I used to be able to do this only when I meditated for long periods or when completely immersed in creativity (which was a big fat and obvious clue as to how I should have been living!) Painful knees and a throbbing back when I would spend a day or more in meditation were nothing. I sat with the pain, sat like a rock, and came to see it as something of a familiar companion. It was something to work with.

But, in everyday life, the pain was my enemy. I didn't want it at my table. And when it wasn't there, I was scared it would be knocking at my door some other day. I shouldn't have been scared, for pain greets me every morning in varying degrees. How could I be so unfriendly to my companion in life? Sure, this companion is a pain in my butt, but it's been pretty reliable as companions go. Unfortunately, I allowed it to become my bully.

I suppose that's what happens when you don't honor a constant companion. They just start screaming at you to give them the attention they deserve!

So, I finally gave in and became gracious, and in walked a new friend, optimism. Optimism makes me a wee bit nervous, as it challenges me to honor the fact that I do have hopes and dreams, and they've been squelched for so long that they're busting at the seams. I've got all sorts of ideas of things I want to do and try and instead of ignoring these thoughts, I'm just going to go full steam ahead. Is this really optimism? Hmmm. I am pretty sure that some things will not pan out, or succeed, or go smoothly. So what?

Maybe it's not optimism after all. Maybe it's just losing my fear. Y'know, I'm gonna take the words "optimism" and "pessimism" out of my vocabulary. They just don't seem to serve any purpose that I can think of. I'd prefer to use the words love and fear. It rather boils down to those. At least I think so.

Image note: This happy bird is what is sitting on my yarn labels.