optimism

Several years ago, a friend of mine gave me a book about optimism. She said, “I know, I know, it’s a little fluffy, but it’s really good!” She had discovered that her attitude towards life, in general, was quite pessimistic. Reading about optimism helped her world-view, she said. She felt more hopeful, and more ready to meet her life with a different attitude.

I read through the book and took some of the quizzes and was very surprised to discover that I was overwhelmingly optimistic. I had never thought of myself as such; I’m a rather depressed sort of person. But apparently, optimism really has nothing to do with how sad or happy one is. It’s a feeling, a belief, that things will work out for the best. It’s metaphorically looking at the glass of life and seeing it half-full or half-empty.

Today was a weird day. First thing this morning, I discovered that my bank account was overdrawn. I wound up going to the bank and talked to the teller, who told me that my balance was $9 but my available balance was -$12. Was I overdrawn? He didn’t know exactly. I deposited the few dollars I had into the bank, hoping that it would balance out somehow.

Then a friend came to look at my car, which had overheated and died the other night. The car, which he actually referred to as a beast, has been on its last legs as long as I’ve had it. The car is old and a little obnoxious. It’s loud and big and terrible with gas. But I love it. I love the scarred and dented body. I love the bullet holes on the driver’s side door. I even love the tape deck.

When I got the car a year ago, the mileage was stopped at 110k miles. The next oil change (according to the window sticker) was routinely due in 2008. I have no idea how many miles the car actually has. Needless to say, after a new hose was bought and replaced, the car continued to overheat. My friend wound up taking my car home so that he could try to find the root problem.

I went about the rest of the day. The children and I took a walk and I found a $50 bill in the street. I thought maybe it could have fallen from someone’s pocket, but not one person was walking in either direction, or even around. And just like that, I picked it up. We were all stunned, happy at such good fortune.

A little bit later in the day, I heard from my friend. He said that the engine may have to be rebuilt. “Is it worth it?” I asked. He said, “I don’t know.” He knows I can’t pay him. He knows I can’t buy a new car. I told him not to stress it- that it might make more sense to junk the car rather than rebuild the engine. He said, “Leave the car with me for a few weeks and I’ll see what I can do.”

And everything was fine. I was fine. And then, I wasn’t fine. I was devastated, crying, feeling very bad for myself. I hated being poor. I hated not having money in the bank. I hated not having money to fix my car, and furthermore, having no options with which to buy a new one. I wondered why this happened. What am I supposed to be learning from this. I believe everything happens for a reason, but I can’t find a reason – money is to me what the rock is to Sisyphus.

I think, maybe I need to work harder. I think, I will not always be poor. It has to get better, it will get better. It can’t get any worse. I think, maybe this is the universe telling me something. I think, there have to be bad areas in any person’s life, right?

I am so grateful for my life; I know I have my fill of beauty and joy. I have such wonderful children; we have such a great relationship. I have an amazing and supportive lover and friends in my life. I am starting to receive acceptances along with all those rejections from what I’ve been sending out from my poetry manuscript. I’m working again on short stories and erotica, and I know I’m doing some really excellent work.

I found $50 in the street. Why did that happen? I don’t know. I found out I may not have a car anymore. Why did that happen? I don’t know. I have to believe things happen as they are meant to happen, that all things lead us to different places, and if we follow the “omens” (to use the term from Coehlo, “The Alchemist”), even if we don’t fully understand the signs, even if the path is sometimes dark and difficult and tests us in a hundred different ways, we will still wind up exactly where we are supposed to be.

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