O is for Optimism
Some may consider this a stretch and not a solid piece in my repertoire. But people who really know me understand my optimism is shellacked with layers and layers of disappointment, distrust and a few minor disasters. Removing those triple D layers requires an EPA reclamation plan…..so I leave them untouched. An old house covered in lead based paint gets more toxic when you try to remove all the decades of spring painting. Because spring is when hope arrives. Spring is the eternal reminder that it all comes back, even after a devastating winter. My faith certainly pulls me through a Lenten fast and sacrifice to arrive at the joyous celebration of the Rising. I KNOW this. I believe this. It doesn’t make the 40 days of fast any easier. It doesn’t make the exile to the wastelands or the wandering in the desert fun. Only a delusional, mad man would be happy to be lost in the desert. The very best….the ones specifically Chosen to be our faith examples had their serious falters and doubts. Even Jesus stumbled. Thankfulness and joy arrives when you get OUT of the wasteland. Billy Graham wasn’t happy and thankful for cancer while he was stumbling through chemotherapy. But he sat on Larry King and proclaimed his thankfulness for that cancer AFTERWARDS. Why? Because adversity works people! The bigger the clusterf-ck the more thankful you should and can end up on the other side. Seriously….getting crucified is an ultimate bad day and Jesus still rose up and shimmered with glory. Now, granted, he’s Divine and actually God and supernatural and all. But…I am not likely to face being crucified. So, I can probably handle what life is handing me.
I have the great and good fortune of being physically healthy. As I approach my 45th birthday, I am more attuned to wanting to be good to myself and taking care of myself so I get at least another 45 years. I don’t want to take my physical health (or my mental fortitude) for granted. And possibly that is the origin for my pessimism. I don’t count chicks just because I have a basket of eggs. I know an egg can hatch an alligator or a snake. Hatchlings aren’t always future chicken parm. Optimism comes from looking at unexpected hatchlings and seeing a nice pair of shoes or a snakeskin wallet. A moment of disappointment is reasonable if your anticipation was for cute, fluffy Bok Bok Easter chicks. Disappointment is definitely understandable if after your little chickadies hatch the last egg is a snake who then gobbles down all your yellow fluffies right in front of the small crowd of three year olds. Oh the horror! How do you spin that one into a teachable moment?
You wait. Time has a way of mellowing these hard times. Like compost, fermented pickles, balsamic vinegar, fine scotch, a bold Merlot. Time changes something rotten and bitter into something wonderful, useful, complimentary and uplifting. You might not always get what you want RIGHT NOW at exactly the moment you stomp your feet and petulantly demand it. Sometimes life swats you smartly on the ass and sends you to your room for being a brat. You sometimes realize that while you were disappointed there were no yellow crayons someone hands you something even better, more unpredictable and far more amazing.
It might not be what you wanted….but maybe you didn’t yet REALLY know what you wanted. I am the compost. I am the grape juice. I am the sour mash. I am unclean and refuse….and time and pressure and the unexpected pace of life and circumstance can and has made me something spectacular. And all the while I have had free will and all the while I am headed right where I was meant to be headed……even if I didn’t know it. It is exactly where I was supposed to be. And I am thankful.