Anyone familiar with my contact information will recognize in the title of this post the name I use for my gmail account. I am not the first or only person to use this phrase as an identifier online and there are millions of us out there who were born or grew into this philosophy and continue to live it every day. My particular journey began in the blinding sunshine of optimism, took a quick detour in very bad weather into pessimism, and has finally taken me into this most misunderstood but to me so perfectly comfortable condition I chose to use it as the first impression prefacing most of my communications.
Place in the Sun
Optimism did not serve me well. Always looking on the bright side can be a frustrating and exhausting task. The bright side is an elusive creature that is so often chased away by the dark side, and in general finds itself suspected, mistrusted and mocked, and nearly suffocated in the desperate grip of its own defenders, it is no wonder that it becomes more and more reluctant to show its face. After a few challenging years as the champion of the bright side, I gave it up and left it to more dedicated advocates.
Cover of Darkness
The obvious next move was to go over to the dark side completely. Pessimism was thrilling at first. Predicting that everything in life will eventually turn into crap means being right most of the time, and that can feel pretty good to a former optimist who hardly ever enjoyed that sensation. But after a while pointing a finger, laughing like a cartoon villain and declaring “I told you so!” lost its allure. It’s wonderful to predict accurately that something will happen in a certain way. It’s not so wonderful when the self-satisfied smile begins to fade as you realize that everything has indeed turned into crap and this is not a happy state of affairs. In such cases being wrong probably feels a lot better.
So I found a way to be half-right all the time (half wrong, for you dedicated wholehearted pessimists out there!) I looked inside and realized that I was indeed an optimist at heart. I believe that there is good in just about everyone, that miraculous things can happen if you open yourself to them, and that eventually even the negative things that happen can prove to be important stepping stones on the way to a very positive outcome. All evidence to the contrary, all will be well in the end. I am also painfully aware that bad things happen to good people, good people often do very bad things, and that sometimes you never do get an explanation or justification for some of the hurtful situations in your life, or the bad break that arrives with perfect timing, having caught up on the road with the good break you clearly deserved and was earnestly energetically making its way to you, then clubbed it over the head and left it in a ditch.
Hot and Cold
Being a disillusioned optimist also means I can hang with the pessimists when things turn sour and join the chorus of “what did you expect? Life sucks!” But I can also hang with the optimists when a little magic dust descends and agree “I always knew things would be okay.” I am not sure which came first, my embrace of this philosophy or my life’s pattern of equal and opposite evidence of magic and of life sucking. Either way, life does indeed suck at times, and life can also be magic at times. I have had my share of both. I believe in and accept both. It’s all about the balance of light and shadow, and you rarely have one without the other.
"Qual de Nos" by Denise Scaramai
Last week was one of those times when reverting to pessimism seems entirely justified. But all the time I was struggling to stand my ground against some negative forces causing me to question myself, I was being encouraged by all the wonderful supportive comments left on last week’s post by you wonderful people out there. It was an especially welcome surprise to learn that my blogfriend Denise created another masterful illustration based on one of my photographs, which you can see above.
The week culminated on Saturday at the Artbeat festival, which proved successful for both Brian, baking in the hot sun under a tent outdoors, and myself, in the cool indoor setting of the Burren, a local bar and restaurant. Brian will be posting this week about how his day went and also making available for purchase a new t-shirt with a design based on one of his paintings. For my part, I made some good sales and received a lot of positive feedback on my work, some of which was being shown for the first time. A good day all around.
And saving the best news for last, my new book is now available on Blurb! This book represents my best work from the past ten years right up to images captured only a couple weeks ago, which proved to be the last necessary pieces to complete a work I envisioned many months ago and was having difficulty realizing. Clicking on the badge in my sidebar will take you directly to the Blurb bookstore which will be the exclusive distributor of my book. I have also added links in both the NEWS and STUDIES IN CONTRAST sections of my blog. Because it is currently under consideration in the Photography Book Now contest, my book is set to full preview and you can view it in its entirety here or on the Blurb site. Of course, there is nothing quite like the experience of an actual physical book, as I discovered today when I held my book in my hands for the first time, so please buy a copy for yourself, you will not be disappointed! All in all, this week I am happy to report that my optimism, although still entirely free of illusions, has once again emerged triumphant! Have a great week, and thanks for visiting.
Book in Hand