Here & There: In an apocalyptic 2020, it’s still OK to have a little optimism

Photo illustration. | Photo by Tonktiti, iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

FEATURE — My teenage son’s eye roll was nearly audible when he asked me if I’d always been this optimistic. “This” almost surely being a euphemism for “annoyingly” or some other less than complimentary modifier he knows better than to call his mother.

Photo illustration. | Photo by Brian A Jackson, iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

I could only respond with the truth: yep, pretty much. 

I come by my optimism honestly – my mother was born with it and my father willed himself that way. 

And I’ve got to tell you that in this pandemic-earthquake-job-loss-school-delay-mask-up-wherever-you-go-freak-windstorm-ripping-across-the-state kind of a year: a little optimism isn’t such a bad thing to have.

Unless you’re 17 and your mother is the optimist. If that’s the case, then it’s simply annoying. 

Because if you’re 17, right now you’re pretty sure that 1) your senior year is not going to be anything like you thought it would be (and it was supposed to be great); 2) college isn’t going to be what you thought it was going to be (and it was supposed to be really great); 3) heck, nothing is like you thought it was going to be. 

If you’re 17, you might just feel like the world and all of its systems and promises are falling down around you. 

And if you’re an optimistic mother trying to help your 17-year-old see enough glimmers of hope to forge ahead, pessimism can be pretty annoying too. 

I mean, it’s only September and this is what we’ve got: 

  1. Pandemic
  2. Cancel culture
  3. Earthquakes
  4. Ridiculous number of fires
  5. Police brutality
  6. Defund the police movement
  7. National coin shortage
  8. Twin hurricanes
  9. Windstorms
  10. Half the U.S. population thinking the other half of the U.S. population is politically crazy

Business writer Morgan Housel says it’s not a matter of optimism vs. pessimism per se. But rather, the coexistence of optimism AND pessimism. In fact, he says every successful business or career is a balance of both.

Photo illustration. | Photo by Daisy-Daisy , iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

He calls it sensible optimism – the “belief that the odds are in your favor, and over time things will balance out to a good outcome even if what happens in between is filled with misery.” 

I guess another way to think of sensible optimism is Jerry Seinfeld with heavy doses of George Costanza along the way.

The global pandemic made it almost impossible to travel for several months. Which meant we’ve all stayed home and explored our own neighborhoods and foothills a little more. 

It also had us quarantined for weeks at home in the early days, with runs to the grocery store for depleted supplies of toilet paper being our only outings. Which means that today, with restrictions eased, we appreciate our human connections just a little bit more.

This week’s hurricane-force windstorm in Salt Lake left many of us with immense destruction and without power or internet for several days. Which meant, after the cleanup, spending one of the most enjoyable nights in recent history by candlelight and without the hum or distraction of electronics. 

So, son, I’ll be Jerry and you can be George. And together we’ll get through this one eye roll at a time. 

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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