I’ve got a funny relationship with optimism and pessimism. After working in corporate PR for decades I’m pretty jaded about business and government leaders. When a CEO or anyone in government makes a stupid decision with painful consequences I’m not surprised or indignant. I just shrug. Of course that’s what happened . . . .
But when it comes to the world – to humans, to our cultures – I always hope for the best. I have always believed that we, individually and collectively, do try and sometimes even succeed at getting better.
I also believe in the fundamental power of hitting bottom. Is there any more powerful motivation than desperation? With every tragedy that’s happened in the last two years, the jaded side of me thought, “Of course that horrible thing happened” but the optimistic side of me thought, “We’re getting closer to hitting bottom. This means we’re closer to getting better. We will grow, we will change, we will learn.”
In March 2020, a cocktail of numbness and panic consumed me when I started to understand what the pandemic would mean. When George Floyd was murdered I felt sick to my stomach. Watching just two minutes of footage of the January 6 riots sent a silent tear down my face. When the California wildfires and the Delta variant raged and Afghanistan fell, I felt like someone at the bottom of a brackish well. Still, the optimist in me clung to a hope that we were falling toward a bottom from which we’d inevitably rise.
But when Putin invaded Ukraine something inside me broke. We were nowhere near the bottom? Wasn’t it time for us to turn the corner and heal? Apparently not.
Maybe my optimist has had it wrong. Maybe things are not going to get better. Maybe we’re just going to roll from one hideous crisis to another. But, as they say, once I gave up hope, I started to feel better. Clear-eyed. OK, I thought, so be it. If this is the world I live in, it means I have certain responsibilities. So I’ve made three decisions:
- I’m taking life day by day, expecting nothing, refining my capacity to pivot on a dime. As my brother (who was in the army) says, I’m going to drive on.
- I’m focusing on what I can control, which is getting more physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially resilient. That means more cardio!
- I’m delighting in every morsel of beauty and joy I can find – my dear friends, the bright blue spring sky, BTS’s concert on April 8 in Las Vegas. And I’m generating whatever beauty and joy I can – through love and service as well as by continuing to write.
I’m gonna keep going. . . Hope you’re finding your way forward too.