There is in the cheer of birds
And the gleam of well-woven words
An unveiled ode to optimism.
I believe, we're all living two parallel realities at any given time - our limited version and the world's unlimited one. Even as we suffer setbacks and disappointments; sometimes as minor as a scuffle in the train; other times as major as a dismissal from a job; the world continues to generate breathtakingly lovely sunsets, rivers continue to flow their course; tiger cubs continue to grow to regal, fearsome adulthood and nature continues its unceasing, relentless creation of magic and beauty. Even as some people commit heinous crimes, others continue to strive to alleviate poverty and deforestation. The good and the bad - they run on parallel axes and both are ceaseless. Our tiny destinies and the universe's infinite one - they unfold; both at the same time. What does it all mean? It's a question that has bothered every human being at some time or the other; some more often than others. And the answer I have found acceptable is this - you can either choose to live as though your finite reality were the only one; allowing mistakes and failures to overwhelm you over and over; or you can choose to be aware of the greater reality at all times; drawing strength from it to find beauty and goodness even in the midst of the most impenetrable darkness. Victory is in the latter choice because frankly, optimism is the only way you can face tomorrow and be happy about it.
It takes magnanimity and humility to confess that the life you're living may not be all-important; that the misfortunes that befall you aren't exactly having a monumental impact on the planet. But once you attain this mindset, you realise that there is always something to be happy about; something to be grateful for; even if it's just the air you breathe or the sunshine warming your wintry toes. You start deriving positivity from people and phenomena that aren't directly connected to you - such as a wayward flower or a stranger child. Your spectrum of happiness widens to encompass so much more than your immediate surroundings and events; and eventually if it widens to encompass the whole wide world, don't you think your cup of joy would overflow for all eternity? This is my definition of optimism - the unwavering capacity to find joy in that which doesn't directly affect you; the ability to derive pleasure from undiluted expression of the spirit; be it a birdsong, a work of art or a joke that someone cracks. Then, even if you had not a cent to your name or a person to call your own, you'd still be happy. Because there is so much in this world that's good and beautiful and pure. We are all immeasurably wealthy for we can smile; every single moment that we please. We can feast our eyes on colourful flowers and innocent babies; play invigorating games; run, dance, skip and jump as often as we please! And even if our abilities are impaired such that we cannot do all of this, there is still so much that we can enjoy; so much we can find pleasure in! Optimism is in fact the only logical way to be; any other attitude is but woefully short-sighted and blinded.
It would be hard to pinpoint one favourite story of optimism; because everyday, I come across marvellous tales of superhuman courage, benevolence and creativity. So I'll simply tell you the most recent one that made an impact on me - this is about a girl in Orissa who was born to poor parents with no hands. Suryakanti's parents were dismayed at the prospect of a fresh financial burden but as time progressed, the young girl displayed a passionate thirst for knowledge. Unable to send her to school, her mother began teaching her at home. Eventually, our determined young woman learnt to write expertly with her toes and she went on to become a school teacher. Today, she is employed with a primary school as a teacher and is responsible for taking care of her whole family consisting of her ageing parents and teenaged brother. Suryakanti could have abused her fate for denying her what almost everyone had - the use of her hands. She could have borne grudges against her older siblings for saddling her with the duty of looking after her parents and sibling. Instead, she surmounted all odds to overcome her disabilities and took on the onus of taking her care of her family selflessly. If this is not optimism, I don't know what is. I am certain that despite everything, Suryakanti faces every day with a smile and the hope that it will turn out well. My life is not even half as difficult as hers. Is yours? Then, let us take a cue from her and discard the weighty rags of needless negativity and pessimism. Let's #lookup at the sky and find something to be glad about, in it's limitless expanse.