Optimist: A person who holds to the belief or doctrine of optimism. A person who consistently ascribes to a most positive outlook. (Dictionary definition)
We get to meet all kinds of people at the Inn. Some really stand out, and others are forgotten almost as soon as their automotive dust cloud clears after their departure. Generally, we tend to remember the optimists. Optimists are the rather positive folks who don’t suck all of the air out of a room; instead, they generally leave us energized in their wake. These people seem to lend an air of positive spiritual energy to any gathering. There are extremes, of course; namely those “Pollyannas” of the world who bury their heads in the sand and won’t acknowledge even the existence of its dark side. I think that Pollyannas would eat their young before admitting that the world had run out of food.
Pessimists seem to see themselves as victims. I remember Isabel’s friend Lisa Tipton saying that “if I didn’t have bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all.” Lisa has raised two great children and owns a pretty, paid-off farm, but after she lost her husband Randy to a series of strokes last year, Isabel says that Lisa’s short-term depression has morphed into abject pessimism. Micah keeps saying that once Lisa “finds her another good man, she will be fine.” Whereupon Isabel accuses Micah of being an inveterate chauvanist who believes that “the mere presence of a man will solve all of your problems.”
We have many pessimistic visitors who will start a morning with “with my luck, the biscuits will be burned and my eggs will be underdone.” Let me assure you that Louella rarely, if ever, would single out a guest for a dose of poorly prepared food — but, there have been times . . .
Speaking for the canine population of the world, I can say that even the smartest dogs just aren’t wired to be optimists OR pessimists. Pleasant, yes; nasty and agressive, possibly; but optimistic? Probably not. We don’t plan – or think- ahead, you are our alpha role models, and we pretty much accept what befalls us. We are loyal, trusting, and for the most part — obedient. Our behavior and beliefs are pretty much structured to our contexts of previous experiences, and we react as our repertoire of experience dictates. If we have previously had a cruel owner, we will react when we see a rolled up newspaper or someone’s foot coming at us, but we seldom plan on, or are able to predict, the event. If you are a master who frequently takes us for rides, all we need is an open car door, and we’re ‘good to go.’ In short, to us, almost everything comes as a surprise.
Isabel certainly can’t be labeled as an optimist, but neither is she a pessimist. Isabel is a pragmatist and realist. Her expectations are not unrealistic, and she accepts and embraces those good things that happen to her with grace and thankfulness. Ray’s unexpected death three years ago pushed her hard,, but she ‘motored’ through the situation with the strength and stamina that we would all expect of Isabel. Comments and conversations that I have overheard support my belief that Isabel believes that good luck is random and runs in spurts, whereas bad luck occurs as “the luck of the draw.” All in all, I think that Isabel believes that life (and luck) are somehow merely a crapshoot.
Micah Davenport believes that his one and only major episode of bad luck occurred when he was a teenager and was responsible for the death of his best friend in a DWI accident. Despite his rocky past, Micah heads up my list of optimists here at Faded Glory Farm. I have often heard Isabel and Louella say that all it takes is a five minute conversation with Micah to “cheer them up.”
I believe that in our short lives, we are all dealt a hand of cards. What happens after the initial deal is up to each of us. As life continues to throw it’s ‘tests’ at us, we can either rise to the occasion and take appropriate action, or resign ourselves to more bad luck and accept a direct hit. I guess it comes down to a passive or a pro-active approach to life.
, what we end up with are three types of folks. One type that sees the world as it IS, another that sees the world as they THINK it is, and a third that sees the world the way they would LIKE it to be; realists, pessimists and optimists. Subject these three groups to a glass that is filled 50% with water, and you have three different outlooks. To the pessimist it is “half empty,” to the optimist it is “half full,” and for the realist who says, “Well, I’m happy to see that we have some water.”
I’ve heard it said many times that “dogs are really pretty passive and predictable.” I will admit that we are certainly nowhere near as complex as our human brethren, but we do react and try to compensate for situations that have already befallen us. We are reactive, versus pro-active. I think that your highly evolved human race would be the true winner of the contest for overthinking their lot in life. I guess, in the final analysis, we dogs are just realists, not optimists or pessimists; black and white; no gray. All in all, I also believe that life is just one big crapshoot.