Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Notes on optimism.

As readers of this blog may have perhaps heard me say from time to time, I believe that, in a democracy, it is one's duty to be optimistic. However, today as I listened to a story on NPR about the Iowa caucuses, the probable role in this election of the young people who organized for Obama last election, and that full-o-crazy slate of Republican hopefuls, I admit that my optimism flagged. A bit.

My Shakespeare professor from my undergraduate years, who had been knighted (seriously) by the Queen herself, once recounted the anecdote of the dog, who began his week-long stay at a kennel believing that all bees were flies, and ended his stay believing that all flies were bees. Point being--belaboring it--that neither optimism nor pessimism is realistic. But that's a dog, of course. What about optimism that is like an engine? that keeps you going?

Today while I was working away on my online course, I felt so hopeful that this would be a great semester. Not the kind of hopeful you have to talk yourself into--the kind of hopeful that just wells up. 

Here are a few things I am looking forward to: new episodes of 30 Rock. My son's Abbey Road party. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Reading Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Watching Mission Impossible tomorrow in the middle of my syllabus-writing. Writing every week. Making new flavors of ice cream (recent flavors: amaretto-cherry and meyer lemon). Mad Men. Teaching poetry this semester. Wearing my pink sweater. Watching the Jazz get better. 

But not, if I'm honest, the upcoming election. Just worried. Not quite pessimistic, not yet.

I am, though, way, way excited for the upcoming semester. Excited to keep going, building my courses, making plans, coming up with ideas that will make my teaching life a little more challenging and quite possibly just a little more amazing.


  1. I think that optimism and pessism are like lenses with which you can view your life or experience. You can pick which lens to put on, it colours the way you live your life.

  2. I'm obsessed with this poor dog. Get it out of that bee/fly-infested pound. (Perhaps that is my take on the elections. Just get me out of here.)

  3. Just thinking about Meyer lemon ice cream gives me a lift. So thanks for that!

    I have a general goal of feeling better this year than I did last year, and part of it does involve (for me, at least) an attitude adjustment. Without realizing it, I have shifted over the past few years of a default position of "yeah, this'll end up sucking, too" as a form of self-protection. But that kind of position just ends up making people take you off the party list.

    Here's to a happier 2012!

  4. I meant "into a default position." OBV.

  5. Also, in 2012 we get to see each other at least once a week. So there's that.



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