I have always seen the world through rose colored glasses. I see the good in people, places, events, companies, and I generally feel very good about the day that begins when I wake up. Don’t get me wrong, people can get under my skin, places can become places I drive-through or even avoid at all costs, events can become one-and-done ventures and companies can wind up on my “do not do business with” list, it just takes me a while to get to those points. They say an optimist sees the glass as half-full while the pessimist sees it as half-empty. I tend to think about the fact that half a glass of clean water is still hard to come by in many parts of the world so I’m lucky to have it. I confess, I am a chronic optimist.
The downside of chronic optimism comes when the pessimists are right. Eventually, the guy you thought was your friend turns out to be the jerk everybody always said he was. Eventually the restaurant you always count on for a good meal changes their menu or changes hands. Eventually, the airline you like to fly crams five more rows of seats into each plane and starts charging for peanuts.
On the other hand, the benefits of chronic optimism come every day that you are not worried, not depressed and not apprehensive about the ordinary things in life. It comes every minute that you’re behind the wheel convinced that you have enough gas to get to the next town. It comes every second you’re running for a train, convinced of the fact that you will get to the platform on time. I recently missed a train, but I haven’t missed very many so I think the odds are in my favor.
Ironically, I wasn’t upset about missing the train either. It was during my recent trip to England, and I was trying to get to London before traffic got to be a mess. Part of me said “I’ll still have plenty of time if I catch the next train” and part of me said “it’s London, traffic is probably already a mess.”
Chronic optimism seems to insulate me from the effects of failure. I am also frequently the beneficiary of serendipity. When my friend dropped me at the station, I had to run for that first train. After I returned to the platform that the next train would come in on, I discovered that he had waited and now we had time for a proper goodbye.
I have had a number of incidents in my woodshop where things have gone wrong only to end up being better than originally planned. The step stool shown at the right is one such item. The stringers had to have a slight dado to support the treads. Unfortunately, I cut them on the same side of both stringers, instead of the facing sides. Rather than scrap the pieces, I flipped them over and cut two more sets of grooves. The outside groove enabled me to cover the heads of the screws that hold the treads in place with the contrasting walnut strips. Several people have complimented me on that “design!”
As things change over time, a pessimist might worry that he won’t be prepared. I figure that I will either be prepared or that I will simply figure things out when required. As an optimist, I am confident that I can figure out most anything, so an unknown thing really doesn’t present much of an obstacle, especially a potential future unknown – that’s like a non-existent thing. Even when the day comes that I have to face that unknown situation or problem, I will still look for the bright side.
When people say there is no bright side, I think they probably aren’t considering all the sides that something has. Maybe they’re not looking at a circle, maybe it’s a polygon, made up of nearly infinite (and very short) sides. If so, one of them has to be the bright one, but you probably need rose colored glasses to see it.