I love optimists.
Even in the face of knowledge and experience, they have the capacity to believe that things will work out, that there is another bright experience just around the corner.
The world is transformed by optimists who have the persistence to keep trying.
“I love it every time someone tells me no!” an eager salesman said to me. “It means that the ratio is working and that I am one step closer to hearing yes! It’s great!”
I have a bit of trouble being an optimist myself, though. Maybe it’s my experience or my nature, but somehow, I am not as hopeful about the next moment for me.
Supporting optimists is easy for me, though. I come from a positive and encouraging place when I hear the dreams of others. I say “Yes!” to them, doing what I can to give them the courage to take a shot.
Finding people who are able to say “Yes!” to me consistently, though, has been difficult. I found a performance coach who leads an improv troupe where “Yes! And…” has always been the ethos, but when faced with me, hard questions were what he pulled up to coach me. He decided he needed to challenge my visions, not to support them. He, well, found them a bit queer, you see.
I listen to the Marvin Hamlisch tune linked above and I delight in the exuberance of it. What a wonderful moment when you can believe that all you need to do is to find your true love and your life will forever be sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. How delightful!
(I will note that the original lyrics as sung by Leslie Gore do say “when you’re in love to stay” whereas the Bonos seem to sing “in love today.” They appear to be a bit less optimistic and a bit more pragmatic in the 1980s than in the 1960s.)
Taking delight in every moment — let us eat and drink for tomorrow we may die — is certainly a way to squeeze joy out of life. It may, not, however, be a way to gain knowledge and righteousness in the world.
I love optimists. I admire their focus and dedication of purpose, their dedication to their beliefs. I understand and encourage their role in the world, trusting in light and keeping things moving forward, even after serious stumbles. They have the focus to not let their past experiences limit their future, starting over again with gusto (1998).
Sometimes, though, I just wish optimists would love me for who I am and what I bring to the table. Sure, I am an introverted queer intellectual theologian, but damn, that’s got to be worth something, right? Because if it is who I am and yet it isn’t worth a tinker’s dam, well, then what do I have to be optimistic and hopeful about?
I understand why optimists have challenges supporting people like me. Zig Ziglar says that a kind of intelligent ignorance is required for optimism, a willingness to not get bogged down in the reasons why the attempt might not work so you can focus instead on what you need to do to make it work. Too much pragmatism can chill any dream, even the ones that bold action and commitment can make work.
I love optimists. Hurrah for them!
(By the way, if you forward the clip above to 9:25 you will see a cute blonde Chastity Bono, the same “dateless” Chaz Bono who, according to cheap gossip, Cher just wants to see married to a nice girl before she dies of a mysterious ailment. Life is funny, don’cha know, but somehow God seems to be playing to an audience too scared to laugh. . .)