Anyone who knows me knows that I am eternal optimist. I literally cannot stop seeing the bright side. Having not yet lived an eternity, I can’t claim the “eternal” part yet, but I’ve got the “optimist” part down pat.
But the downside to my upside is that being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the face of tragedies large and small annoys the hell out of some folks. Okay, lots of folks. When they’re sad and hopeless and angry, they want me to go there too. I do, but for me it’s a quick trip. I go for a quart of almond milk, while most people go for a month’s worth of groceries. I’m in and out while they’re still reading the ingredients list on sadness.
I just got back from walking my puppy after a 5-day stint of freezing temps during which he only got shortened jaunts outside. He wriggled with joy as he trotted down the street, unencumbered by a heavy jacket. A pair of neighbors remarked, “If only we could all be that happy.” I didn’t want to bum them out by telling them that I mostly am. For now, it will be my dark little secret in the ‘hood.
Many people believe that I’m putting on a show or just sucking it up to help others in their quests to crawl out from under the covers, especially in the dark political period we’ve just entered. I call it “Trumpocene: The era of the second extinction of dinosaurs.” See, what I did there? I told a joke. I’m sure therapists everywhere are shaking their heads and thinking, “She’s hiding her real feelings.” Well, dammit, my real feelings are that despite it being awful out there, we need to laugh more than ever and I still see lots of good stuff all around me. For example, there are cookies in my pantry. How can that not make me happy?
Believe me, I try to keep my exuberance to myself, especially when my close friends are feeling down. I don’t toss optimistic cliches at them as I listen to their problems because I know those don’t usually help. So I’ll bite my irrepressibly joyful tongue and wait until most of the dark skies have cleared for them before I let forth with a torrent of happy thoughts.
Trying to be un-effervescent for my friends when they are blue is tough work and it makes me hungry.
I remember an old bumper sticker that read, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” I believe many people have this feeling about those of us who are silver lining types. They think we’re shallow or unaware. This is usually not the case. In fact, it’s my hyper-awareness of what’s going on in the world around me (I’m a vegan – we’re aware of ALL the pain all the time) that makes my optimism kick in double-time. Any time I see something crying out for mercy and attention, I first deliver mercy and attention and then bounce right back into, “Hey, you know what’s good about life today?” mode.
It’s true that we can only be who we are. You don’t hide your dark goth self and I won’t hide my pigtails and freckles. The fact is, I will probably be whistling “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” at my own funeral.