Saturday, July 16, 2011

Episode IV: A New Hope (name that movie!)

When I was younger, I was an unrivaled optimist. Not only did I look for the silver lining, it was always there, clear and shining. Although, perhaps optimist doesn't cover it – I was unabashedly filled with wonder. A swirl of leaves in a phantom breeze or the splendor of a cream-and-gold sunset could send me into paroxysms of joy. And small acts of kindness, like a smile from a stranger, gave me comfort.

I'm not sure when I lost that sense. Maybe it was in my teens, after my first heartbreaks. Maybe when my parents got sick, and I became their primary caregiver. Or perhaps it was only recently, after graduating from college and pursing a teaching career, only to find there are no jobs. I became a cynic. And slowly I stopped feeling that tingle when I saw a beautiful work of art. Nature's vistas failed to move me, and I looked for ulterior motives in the kindest of acts.

Whenever it was, and however it happened, I miss my wondering, optimistic self.

I used to journal religiously. I would write about my corner of the world and its small miracles and surprises. If I felt I'd been handed the short end of the stick, I poured my heart out onto paper and it made me feel free. I stopped journaling gradually, as hope and optimism faded. Perhaps the two were causal, or maybe just symptomatic. Either way, I want to begin again.

Somewhere along the way, I lost my idealism, my certainty that right-minded people could re-shape the world into a just and beautiful place. Instead, I let the hardships of life dampen my joy, and I fear, sometimes, that I've hurt not only myself, but the people I love with my negativity.

One day at a time, one interaction at a time, my goal is to become a more positive person. The kind of person that, one day, I can look back on and be proud of.

Have you ever looked back at a period of time in you life and realized you were in a funk? How did you deal with it? Do you think people can change just by wanting it?

1 comment:

  1. Same for me! I used to journal every day, but no more. I feel like I've become a boring complainer. I want to enjoy life more, but work seems to always crush it. Maybe we've hit the phase where we'll realize how to balance the negatives and get out of the funk. I hope.

    I still clearly remember my next door old man neighbor giving me balloons when I was 4. It was one of the best days of my life. Maybe we become desensitized to those little joys?