The Unrealistic Optimist

The best thing about being an unrealistic optimist is carrying the secret knowledge that in the end it’s all going to work out.

Even when you’re entertaining the idea that your bad back may in fact be ovarian cancer, you’re pretty sure you’ll get through the chemo and beat the odds.

The unrealistic optimist is sure the traffic won’t be as bad today, the plane that was an hour late will make its connecting flight, and there’s always bound to be a petrol station just around the corner.

That’s not to say there isn’t stress involved in being an unrealistic optimist. What to do with the lotto money? How to celebrate the new job? Where to go for that holiday?

On the way to the skills assessment for the little league baseball I listened as my most junior unrealistic optimist explained how the morning would look. Although he’d never played he was enthusiastic about the day.

On the first assessment he had to run the length of the bases, a stopwatch ran in the background. As he sprinted from first, then to second, he turned on the third and appeared to have a change in plan. Almost stopping to smell the roses or perhaps just contemplate the career of Babe Ruth there was a definite hesitation. “Keep going” G and I called “fast as you can” he looked up, snapped out of it and raced to the end.

He was pretty sure he would have been one of the fastest.

As he swung the bat it left his hands. He giggled. He told me that even though he didn’t hit that many balls, he was pretty sure by next week he’d be able to do it.

On the field the coach lobbed baseball after baseball into the air. I watched as he stood motionless, glove in the air while balls dropped all around him like huge white rain drops. He was in no danger of getting wet.

“I didn’t catch many today, but I think I’ll catch them all next time.”

As we made our way to the car after the assessments were done, the fourth little traveller looked troubled.

“Everything okay poppet?” I asked, hoping his enthusiasm hadn’t been dented with his introduction to new skills.

“I think I’ll have to tell them not to put me in the All Stars team at the end of the year – I don’t think I want to do the travel to the other countries”.

“Well, that makes me happy, because I’m not quite ready to let you travel solo just yet.”

We unrealistic optimists have to stick together.

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