If you follow Evelyne Holingue, you are aware that she’s participating in the April A-to-Z thing. A-To-Z calls for a blog post every day in April except Sundays, except April 1st which was a Sunday, and was Easter but still required a post because calendars and math had paper and A-to-Z had rock and…well, you know how that goes.
Evelyne is sharing “Twenty-Six Funny, Weird, Vivid French Expressions.” Despite the fact that her ‘A’ expression, on a Sunday that was Easter, involved a snake, I am still following her. I’m not trying to learn French, but understanding stuff that is different from the stuff I do every day is interesting. I like Evelyne’s theme, even though my day job requires me to work with languages and funny, vivid and possibly weird expressions on an almost daily basis. For example:
r := nc reject:[:each | each even]
Last Thursday, Evelyne shared the expression: “ÊTRE MAL BARRÉ” for which she offered the best equivalent English expression: “Not standing a chance.” But, when she gave an example of the phrase used in a sentence, she used:
“Je suis mal barré(e): I’m off to a bad start”
I complimented her effort, and in my comment, I added:
“I think I like the sense of this expression more than one I frequently use ‘this is not going to end well’ in that it leaves a small amount of room for hope.”
I like it when there’s room for hope.
I am an optimist. I have always been an optimist. I think being an optimist has helped me. If nothing else, being an optimist has helped me not become a pessimist. You might think those two things are mutually exclusive, but it’s a sliding scale. Somewhere in between those opposite ends of the spectrum are people who claim to be realists. I think pessimists are more likely to make that claim. Optimists won’t claim to be realists; it’s not an aspirational goal – it’s closer to defeatism.
On any given bad day, I might lose my optimistic hold on life and accept that “this is not going to end well,” but that’s only a dose of realism creeping in. That is not the same being a pessimist. However, if I only slip as far as: “I’m off to a bad start,” the implication is that thngs might still end well. I think I remain on the optimistic end of the spectrum.
That’s OK. Optimism is more subtle than pessimism. Pessimism is often loud and absolute. Optimism is quiet, sometimes silent, and it drifts from absolute certainty to a muted hopefulness. Still, feeling hopeful, even on the inside, is better than embracing doom.
I was going to create an illustration for this post, but since I’ve mentioned “spectrum” a couple of times, let’s just go with that.
If I had to locate the pessimism/optimism boundary, I’d put it, ironically, in the area of the visible spectrum I can’t distinguish very well – somewhere on the greenish side of blue. I would prefer to start with blue, but then that would confuse the whole meaning of “having the blues.” Interestingly enough, Evelyne pointed out in an earlier expression that “…the French see things in black when down when the Americans see or feel them in blue.” That would work for me, because I like blue and I see it as an uplifting color as opposed to a down-in-the-dumps color.
I digress. If you look at the illustration, I think it’s clear that optimism, as I’ve defined it, is the better way to go. From blue down (to the left), we encounter Ultraviolet and Gamma Rays – things that harm and kill. From red forward (to the right) we encounter Infrared and radio waves. Radiation that warms (yes, possibly cooks, but…) and allows us to communicate. This is the area of the spectrum that underpins my livelihood. The Internet lives here, good, bad and otherwise.
I hear the argument the pessimists might be making. “The operative phrase is, ‘as I’ve defined it.’ Who’s to say you’re right?” It’s true, there is no textbook definition of where on the spectrum optimism begins. In fact, I may be the only person to attempt to locate optimism, or any state of mind on the Electromagnetic Spectrum. If that’s so, then my definition rules…until proven otherwise. That’s how optimism works.
The gallery has a few more contrasting pictures from my commute. Gray skies, bright skies, they’re all good days.