Archive for December 31st, 2021

Committed Optimist

GC Myers- The Durable Will sm

The Durable Will – Now at the West End Gallery, Corning, NY

Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.

― Noam Chomsky

Tonight is New Year’s Eve with the year 2022 beginning at midnight. The last several year’s have been racing with increasing urgency to this moment and it almost feels like we are near the point where all the storylines merge and hopefully come to an end. The threats of pandemic, climate related disasters, potential government overthrow and civil war all hang in the air, all with outcomes that are yet to be determined.

But despite the threats that sometimes haunt my fevered dreams, I have found myself in recent days feeling oddly optimistic.

I am optimistic about the work I will produce but even more than that, I have a feeling of positivity that these more daunting and dangerous matters can be resolved.

Well, maybe not the climate related disasters. That can’t be resolved in short order, if ever. But the  optimistic part of me believes that we as a species will find the will to adapt to the coming changes in our environment.

So, call me an optimist this morning. I am proud to wear that label after the last five awful years.

Optimists sometimes get a bad name. Maybe rightfully so.

I mean, they sometimes gloss over glaring and seemingly unsurmountable obstacles. They sometimes overestimate their abilities and potentials. They sometimes forget that others may not have the same forward looking attitude and, as a result, will not assist in the mission.

And they are sometimes dreadfully wrong and their attempts fail in gloriously awful crashes.

But you know what? They fail only because they have the daring and foresight to start and do things. Big things.

Optimists get things get done. Plain and simple.

Pessimists have never accomplished a thing worth remembering. If they have, it eludes my memory.  Pessimism is easy, without any commitment or acceptance of responsibility. It doesn’t take any daring or effort to criticize, to point out flaws or the doomed outcomes that they believe will come.

No, pessimists do nothing. I know. I have been a part-time pessimist for long stretches of my life and during those periods, I was worthless and miserable.

Any great accomplishment, any breakthrough, anything that has moved or benefitted mankind, came from an optimist. They had a visions, saw a need, and plunged in. They brushed aside the naysayers, the pessimists, and did what needed to be done.

They saw a future.

But optimism is not easy. Not by a long shot.

We’re not talking Pollyanna, rose-colored glasses stuff here. I’m talking hardcore, roll-up-your-sleeves, bare-your-knuckles and show-your-teeth optimism. 

The optimism I am talking about requires steely determination and willingness to sweat and bleed to achieve the envisioned future. It requires taking on a responsibility for others besides yourself. It takes the daring to move on even as you know that you could very easily fall flat on your face and outright fail.

Most importantly, it requires absolute, unwavering commitment. This is the real key to everything.

Commitment is a dangerous thing in the hands of the misguided or the more evil among us. We see evidence of this all the time. But in the hands of those who work and struggle for a better future for all people- even those creative sorts who want to leave the world evidence of the grace that resides here– commitment is a force of nature.

Commitment in the hands of an optimist is the engine that makes the world a better place and creates a better future for us all.

Look at the history of human achievement– it gets stuff done. Plain and simple. 

I want to see a better future. I want to see it in my work but, more importantly, I need to see it in the world around me. And I am optimistic that it will be done.

So for this last entry in the year 2021, let me state that I plan to enter the New Year as a Committed Optimist.

Might even put that on my business card, if I had one.

Let’s play one last song for this year. This is When Your Minds Made Up From Glen Hansard, from his creation that became an enchanting movie and stageplay, Once. I chose it because this performance is filled with commitment. Its finishing moments are filled with absolute, primal and ethereal commitment.

And that– absolute, primal and ethereal commitment– is my wish for the New Year.

My mind’s made up.

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