And yet, in the end, strangely enough, it was optimism that killed her, though perhaps not literally; but it could be said that optimism did lay a very strong foundation. She was the kind who always figured out how to float; others would say she knew how to fall on four feet, like a cat. Not unnaturally quickly or anything, but when others took years and never recovered, she found ways to convince herself that “it could have been worse.” It always worked, even in the tragedy of her son, when no ordinary person could ever imagine how it could have been worse. She had been dealt the worst, but again, though gradually, her optimism found a way around it, that while some people are given many misfortunes, she was given this one. And yes, it indeed could have been worse, if she really thought about it. Often, she wished her optimism would vanish for a while and depression would take over so that she could be at peace in her own misery – for she wanted to indulge in it. But it didn’t. Every morning she woke up with a strange hope, a positive energy which she knew not where it came from, a memory of a song on her lips. It would stay for a few minutes before she would wonder to herself why it was that she was not grief-stricken.
She would try to kill it: this kind of bursting optimism was unreasonable and probably not good for health. She should be sad, she should be contained, she should even implode and self-destruct for the sake of normalcy. Instead, she found that her sadnesses were short-lived, or rather, she always managed to rise above them, even when the pain tormented her. Over the years, she had consciously or otherwise trained herself to be positive, to see the silver lining rather than the cloud; and it had flung her to the other extreme. It was almost as bad. One could also die of too much optimism.
One of my favourite poems is about 'hope' by Emily Dickinson:
'“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me."
Beautiful. Thanks a lot for sharing.
Too much optimism kills. Being pessimistic and then drifting to depression also kills. Between these extremes is life, as narrow as it can get.
Right. An oscillation between the two.