The cruel irony of optimism is that that smug fucker hope always springs eternal. I realize that for the most part hope is a good thing, something that the world could generally use more of. But I tell you, it can be exhausting. And it iinevitably brings expectations, which can then be let down. I have to think that it might be comforting to be a pessimist; to never expect anything, or to always expect the worst. To wallow cozily in curmudgeonly gloom & doom. To not have constant hopes and dreams to be swept up in a stormy wave and dashed against the rocks. Because for the optimist, even when our hopes are crushed in the cruelest of ways and for all rights we should become jaded beyond repair, we always seem to bounce back, ready for more.
Marya Mannes once said, “The curse of the romantic is a greed for dreams, an intensity of expectation that, in the end, diminishes the reality”.
Maybe then, this is the curse of the optimist as well, to dream too vividly, hope too fervently, foster imaginations that run like wild stallions, beautiful but dangerous. But I have to wonder: is it not possible to appreciate the reality and yet still harbor great expectations? After all, can we not see the world as it is but believe we can make it better? Maybe the problem is not the hopes and expectations themselves but the lack of initiative to make them real?
To be honest I don't really know, but either way, I have to think that a "greed for dreams" and "intensity of expectation" are essential to the human spirit. Some are greedier than others, some are better at pursuing their dreams, and some may become so discouraged and cynical that they feel like giving up dreaming altogether. But in order to truly be human, in order not to lose our spark, I think we have to harbor great hopes and dreams. And when we manage to make our dreams become reality, that is something amazing to behold; a priceless victory and triumph of the spirit. But even if we fail, at least the dream was there, at least we held its fire in our hands and hope in our heart. There's no shame in that.
And I for one wouldn't want to live any other way. In the immortal words of the Rolling Stones: you can't always get what you want. Dreams will inevitably be crushed, setbacks will occur. People will disappoint you. These are facts that simply must be accepted in order for each little blow not to cave in our entire world and send us reeling into the abyss. But that doesn't mean you stop trying, or stop trusting. It doesn't mean you stop believing in magic or serendipity or the power of the heart and the human spirit. After all, that would be to give up on life itself.
So no matter the hurt and disappointment I'm potentially setting myself up for, I have to believe in "next time", I have to believe that the people I put faith in won't let me down, that I will learn from my mistakes, that honest efforts will be rewarded and patience will not be in vain, that with hard work and conviction dreams can come to fruition, and that each month and each year will be better than the last. That life is good but can always be better; that I can always be better.