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.


Blogger Donna said...

Your description of yourself sounds like one I would give myself, except for the single part. Pessimism has served me well over the years; when I am presented with a success I am pleasantly surprised, having no preconceived notions of it. The glass is always half empty. Congratulations on understanding it's OK not to be like everyone else!

5/05/2006 10:51 AM  
Blogger Reviewer "Devil" Extraordinaire said...

Wow! This post hits so close to my heart. Am astounded by the similarity between this post and things going in my head.

I just got back from a 3-week vacation. Most of it was spent with my parents. They too are getting old and I realize I may not have too much time left with them. They had tough lives but now they are happy and relaxed.

One half of me argues spending time more with them while the other tries to justify pursuit of my career. For the time being I have just made truce with the two halves.

As for the last part, it was exactly what one of my friends was telling me. According to her, my lofty expectations of romance are misplaced and my unwillingness to 'fully give in' in a relationship is damaging.

I think there is an optimist somewhere within me who likes to reason that the above facets are only because I haven't found that right person yet.

Maybe. Maybe not.

5/08/2006 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Neil said...

After a long absence, it was nice to hear from you. You definitely said a lot. Although you speak about pessimism, I wonder if you're using more of a literary device than really meaning it. Because despite the sad tone to some of what you talked about, I doubt a real pessimist would also be someone so caring of others.

5/09/2006 6:06 PM  
Blogger Coloratura said...

Cherchez! You're back! I've been checking your blog for weeks now...

As far as one's outlook is concerned, I have noticed a certain sourness developing in my own faith in people, my ability to trust the world. I attribute this to several things: 1/my husband, who is as cynical as they come, much to my dismay, 2/having been trod on once too many times by my fellow man and 3/having my optimistic eyes yanked open the hard way in various situations.

And yet, I remain an optimist. I think I will be to the end. I think some of this has to do with one's hard-wiring, and perhaps also the lot your soul draws in life when it chooses to appear on this Earth.

Stay single if that is what your soul is telling you. Nothing says you can't have short-term relationships. Not everyone was meant or needs to be married or partnered. Just stay true to yourself. I have a feeling you will...

Welcome back.

5/19/2006 5:09 PM  

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