Apocaloptimists Unite!

I am essentially optimistic, a fundamentally happy person. Both statements are true. I am, however, not a bliss ninny. As I’ve said so often, accepting reality doesn’t necessarily mean liking it. As a relatively well-balanced person, I don’t pretend that I don’t feel sadness, frustration, fatigue. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that optimism and fundamental happiness cannot exist in a fantasy world, and it is only in fantasy that sadness, fatigue and frustration are absent. What keeps me optimistic and able to return to my baseline happiness is that I know the darkness is not the last word.

At the beginning of this year, I wrote:

It’s all about choice. Without choice, I feel helpless and depressed. With choice, I can decide not to concentrate on the ripples that disturb the water’s surface but instead turn my attention to the underlying serenity of the deep. I can choose to lean on the Rock from whom I draw strength. I can mourn my late friend and grieve over what was and what might have been while still living well. I can be sad without sadness taking over my life.

I can also choose to spend time looking at the ripples and being upset at the disturbed surface of the pond. It’s okay if I want to do that now, because I have remembered that it’s my choice.

And whatever I choose, it takes nothing away from the hard-won fundamental happiness of my being. It will still be there, whenever I choose to draw on it.

That basic belief, a knowledge at the bedrock of my awareness, keeps me going on days like today. Today I am feeling very frustrated by my poor health. I am having some worrisome symptoms that keep me from working. I am having some pain. It’s not a good day, but for some reason I feel better in myself – emotionally lighter – today than I have for the last few days. I think it may be because I can look at the negatives and know that they will not last forever.

I lifted this off a friend’s Facebook page:

Right. That about sums it up.

13 thoughts on “Apocaloptimists Unite!

  1. Love this. I love the ability, or try, to be both realistic and optimistic specially in a time where realism usually leads far from optimism.
    Keep trying your best. And whenever you’re too tired, remember Job. (not Steve, no, the other older Job) 🙂 I don’t think anyone suffered as much as he did, yet he’s often cited as the example to [try to] follow when facing dire hardship. Well, at least in Arabic.

    • Thanks, Cherine. During my first round of chemotherapy the nurses told me me that the attitude they encourage is “realistic optimism”. The concept resonated in me, and I’ve been working on that ever since.

      Job. Is one of my favorite biblical figures; I didn’t know he figured in Islam. (Sorry – I am very ignorant.) I love his honesty and transparency, and I especially love the end of that Old Testament book, where he finally realizes Who God is. Thanks for the reminder!

      • Job’s story is not mentioned in full in the Qur’an but the best part I love about it is that when he was afflicted by illeness and the loss of this family, he didn’t blame God or accuse Him of cruelty (like, unfortunately, many people do) he called him “The most merciful of the merciful (ones)”. I was going to give you the quote from the Qur’an, but I didn’t like any of the translations available, maybe because Qur’an is best read in Arabic. Yet, if you’re interested, try to check chapter 21 (The Prophets), verses 83 and 84. The whole chapter mentions many of the Biblical prophets, foccusing -among others things-on the fact that they were good persons who faced hardships and kept their faith in God and how He rewarded them and all those who believe(d) in him.

  2. Praise God for God, as my friend says – He is that unmovable Rock on which we lean and draw comfort and strength from when the ripples in our pond turn to waves, giant waves. May you continue to know His strength and peace.

  3. “Like” isn’t the word, of course – “was impressed by” is closer. I won’t quickly forget such images as snowflakes like the last host of Christendom. I’m glad I read it, voilà. Thanks.

    • You’re right, kb. I don’t see how anyone could “like” The Road. I was impressed by it, in the sense of being marked, changed by it. I still think it is essentially a book about undying love, practical love, sacrificial love, the love greater than which no one has: to give his life so that another may live.

  4. Pingback: My First Century! (*) « Telling Knots

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