The irony of optimism is that it was doomed from the start. When German philosopher and controversial founder of calculus, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, attempted to use logic to understand God’s existence and intention, he landed on optimism. “This is the best of all possible worlds,” he authored. The “this” he was referring to was life on earth. This theory rolled math, theology and philosophy into a single ideal but Voltaire handed his ass right back to him in a satire he wrote shorty thereafter titled, Candide. Embroiled in the storm were other mathematicians and philosophers and generally religious people who couldn’t agree on Leibniz’s assertion and thus math, religion and philosophy were divided. Optimism killed simplicity! Imagine a world where one single person could comfortably hold three opposing principles in their mind and perhaps even make sense of them all?
But maybe the great divide is a good thing.
Or maybe that’s the optimist in me talking.
Life is soooooooo weird. And unpredictable. And often scary. And just when you think you have a handle on reality, like you’re in control and feel prepared, there it goes. Straight out the window. As if a reminder that you don’t know shit.
Sometimes this knowing-no-shit-ness is processed anxiously. How overwhelming is it that we’ve been on earth long enough to think we know stuff only to learn we still know exactly nothing? But if you can bring yourself to see The Bright Side, to surrender your need to control and extricate, from the depths of your potential, the ability to trust that the greater good is, in fact, good, maybe we could stop focusing on all the reasons we’re doomed, on all the stuff that scares us and instead think about what’s good. I’m not saying ignore reality. I am saying that dealing with your shit is a lot easier when you can picture yourself coming out the other end, instead of falling off a bike in a dark alleyway.
Did this get too heavy? Too deep? I’m just trying to stay positive. When the going gets grim and we’re quicksand-stuck in a desperate puddle and not just that, but feel like someone is pushing our shoulders further down, deeper into the puddle, what choice do we have beyond wearing rose-colored glasses and forcing our way out?
So we’ll experiment this month, with mood-lifting food diets and an homage to Pollyanna. There might be a satire about the difference between optimism and idealism. We’ll talk about how to be positive without being annoying, share stories of perseverance — having conquered the quicksand. Sarah Jessica Parker’s birthday is this month, so we’ll also exploit THE SHIT out of that and do what we can to distract without ignoring, alleviate tension without forcing you to get in there if you don’t want to and perhaps most importantly, we’ll listen. So if you’re dying to address something, march first, share second.
Okay. Share first.