There are, in my view now, two kinds of optimism. There is the pleasantly naive optimism that comes from living a relatively sheltered, loved life. This is how I would characterize my life heading into college. As I ran across the ups and the downs of true living, I ended up losing this naive positivism that runs along the lines of: “Anything is possible because I
haven’t failed before,” namely because I met with failure or adversity in various situations. (This could be dubbed “The coming of age,” or even more simply “growing up”.)
My optimism and energy that had sprung from life vibrant but unfounded withered. Over the next few years I found myself slowly becoming more jaded, cynical, and less energetic; even less intelligent. I lowered my expectations from life from seeking everything (freshman year my .plan read “To conquer the world, of course!”) to seeking only a few things, to
seeking very little at all, which is more or less where I found myself this morning in the shower.
But it occurred to me that optimism cannot survive long if it is passively expected to be. Energy cannot expect to simply exist and be tapped; it must be created. I remember various lazy Saturdays when I would just be sort of mellow and chilling around the house; my mother suggested I go do something energetic, like run around or go for a bike ride. “But mom,” I’d say, “I don’t have any energy to do that right now.”
“Ah,” she would respond, “but it takes energy to make energy.”
Optimism must be an active decision, not a feeling passively expected to come washing over one’s self. One has to go out and seize it. Energy and enthusiasm must be actively created in the face of passivity and complacency. We define our own worlds. And we not only can define our lives, but we must.
So I think I’m no longer going to roll out of bed in the morning and expect inspiration and passion and energy to come out from the closet and strike me and invigorate me. I’m going to go find them, wrestle them down, and clothe myself with them. =) Or at least that’s the way that I feel right now, freshly out of the shower.