Friday, May 05, 2006

Optimistically Pessimistic

Isn't it funny how certain things can bring you right back? I had all but forgotten about the blog until yesterday. Not to say I had forgotten it completely, but with other things happening and with the cloak of security somewhat rent it had stopped being the place of refuge it had been before. And then something happened that made me think, "I have to write this down." So I am back.

My mom's doing okay all things considering. I hate the fact that she is getting old. She is not going to get miraculously better as the years go by and I wish I could spend more time with her. Of course, when we are together all our little differences bubble to the surface and all these warm fuzzy feelings get lost.. for a bit anyway. But the thing about me that I both like and resent is that I can never, for any great amount of time, ignore the misfortune of others to focus solely on my own plights. I wish it weren't so because self-absorption is like a cloak of protection around you that prevents you from ever feeling too deeply about anything. Empathy on the other hand brings with it the added burden of other people's sorrow and the weight of the world on your shoulders. But what's the point in dealing with coulda, woulda, shoulda? I am who I am. I can't change that. And no matter how my life has been when I think that her time is running out and things aren't going to get a whole lot better for her I can't but feel sorry.

Is anyone ever curious why so many of the world's philosophers that we are so fond are such pessimists? From Socrates to Sartre, from Emerson to Thoreau, what I have noticed is a kind of quiet despair, an almost fatalistic view of the world as uniformly petty and of people as small. I wonder if pessimism goes with empathy because the ability to feel and see more than most gives you an insight into life that isn't always pleasant. I don't know. I am rambling. What I do know is that in many ways I am a pessimist and it's a comfort. Philosophical pessimism has a built in release valve of optimism in it. If you don't expect things to get much better you don't really get hugely surprised or disappointed when they don't and that is okay. The problem with my mom is the she is a diehard optimist. Disappointment reigns supreme in her life.

Of course, another way of looking at it could be that she needs something to believe in, a glimmer of hope, given how her life has been, while I, having through tenacity and opportunity climbed out of the hell hole I was born in, can afford the luxury of pessimism. Then yet another way of looking at it could be that because of her happy and secure childhood she had reasonable expectations of the same in her adulthood while I had none.

The second thing I love and hate about myself is my ability to argue against myself.

Anyway. I am back to being me, which for the most part means conflicted, confused, introspective, generally pessimistic, occasionally optimistic and gratefully single.

Some people seem to crave relationships the way a junkie craves a hit. Me? Not so much. It could be argued that that's because I haven't found the right person yet. It could be argued that that's because I have unrealistic ideals of romance. It could yet further be argued that that's because I am scared to be in love which is probably the truest statement of all. But it doesn't matter. What matters is that I would much rather have peace of mind and I generally don't have that when I am with someone. So, yesterday, I ended things with two guys and celebrated with champagne. But this time without tears, with chocolate and with a philosophical acceptance that maybe I don't want the same things as everyone else. And that is okay.