Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pessimistic People We Are Not

To which my reply is there is not pessimistic people and optimistic people, but rather people who live their lives with great expectations or very little expectations. People typically think of me as a person of great pessimistic thought. However, I am aware of moments here and there from day to day where great optimism exists in my heart and my head. I realize that my optimistic moments lie in the moments of the day where I am confident in my ability to be in control of the outcome of a particular event. I find myself to be a fairly reliable person to myself. Here my expectations are high and therefore optimism prevails.
However, I find that I am pessimistic in almost all situations which require great expectations of other people. To which I argue, how can one be optimistic in this life when in fact so much is reliant on interactions with people. I think the news stories of terrible tragedies, of unthinkable horrors done to others, of failure and corruption; and of the reoccurring theme of mental madness existing right next door to us, and on the road in the car ahead of you, and with the co-worker that resides in the cubicle next to you, should all indicate we should all lean towards low expectations, which suspiciously dresses itself as pessimistic thought.
Let me begin with a story.
I once had a co-worker who proclaimed that he was a quite the optimistic person. He believed in good in all people. He proudly talked about how he went about his relationships with his lady friends by having no expectations. He felt that the secret to a great relationship was in fact to not have any expectations.
(note: his longest relationship had been 5 months)

I replied first with a ponder and then I stated that we in fact live with 1,000 expectations every day. When speaking of relationships, we have expectations of such things that they will dress themselves appropriately for the day, and take a shower, and utilize public bathrooms, and not pee on peoples tires. For most of us, we have expectations  that our significant other will treat us with respect and not call us names, as we stroll around in public. We expect our lover to not steal from us, and to pay all or half of the restaurant bill. We expect our person of choice to do any number of pleasurable tasks that apply to our happiness, such as give a massage when you are stressed, or pick up your favorite magazine when they are at the store. We expect them to know what things we enjoy and to go about supplementing our lives with their unique understanding of how to meet those needs. This is only a small sampling of what we expect in a relationship. To which his reply, was "Well those are all given things." To which I further argued, indeed they are not; in fact I believe there is no such thing as "Well that is a given." Look into any person's relationship, and you find what they wish were "givens' are in fact needs that are not being met.

Let me back up a little here and explain what I think defines optimism. If you are a person who feels life is full of "givens" such as the cars who share the roads with you will stay in there lane and use their blinkers as necessary  and not run red lights, etc., that McDonald's will get your order right, and that your workplace will pay you your earnings, etc., and that your apartment will not burn down, and that your loved ones will get safely through each day until they are old and gray... well the list is endless. So lets say you think all these things are "givens", therefore you do not give thought to what should occur should the GIVEN or the EXPECTATION not occur. So when all goes right with the day, you feel like you are an optimistic person; all of your great expectations occurred during your day successfully, while you go about being dumb to all the things that you expected to go right, therefore your world is rosy.
But then what almost always occurs when the expected fails. Well I am not a optimistic, so I can not speak entirely of how an optimistic person deals with unexpected tragedy. It is only my understanding that they most likely were not prepared for the failure of the "given" not occurring.
I have a unique m.kat.t. (me, myself, and I) theory to which I say "Tell my your worst possible scenario  and I will provide you with 5 other worst possible scenarios that you didn't even think of." I feel this is my specialism. I have rational worst possible incidents that I think in my head, and yet the world still surprises and surpasses every day my worst possible situations!
Now let me define a pessimistic person. Let me directly talk about my own thoughts, so that I am not speaking as if though I am an expert, but merely experienced in living life with low expectations. I do not expect drivers to stay in their lane, to stop at red lights, and to look before merging. I have never been the cause of any accident, and it was only a year ago that I experienced my first fairly significant accident when on slippery roads, a car slid into my car at a fast speed and took off my bumper and made some lovely dents in the side of my car. Did I initially swear a lot when the accident happened and say a word that rhymed with duck over and over; yes I did, but then I pulled myself together and instead found the destruction to be of fascination  and of "hmm, well that changes my plans for the day."  By the end of the day, the insurance company had my claim, and my car was in the shop, and I was driving a rental. I "expect" to get into accidents on snowy days, therefore when it happened I was prepared.

Oh stop all the madness. I can't stand it. This is going is so many different directions, because suddenly this is not about expectations alone, but about what are expectations are. I "expect" things to go wrong, and therefore, I experience and notice when things go wrong. I am sensitive to failure and I expect failure, therefore I have expectations, negative expectations, but great expectations never the less. And suddenly this is an entirely long rant about how I thought that I could say there is not pessimistic people and optimistic people but a difference in great or little expectation. When in fact if you have expectations of good, and good happens, you will  notice the good, and you're are an optimistic. And if you have expectations of negative and bad, and negative and bad occur, you will notice it, and you continue to be a pessimistic. To which I wish to return to my days of sitting up in a tree and enjoying the sun, and the great big blue Montana sky, and finding comfort in a simple world where tag and hide-n-seek were the highlights of my day.

And so I will end this madness with knowing there is still a great deal of hidden points in this blog. There are those that define their lives with "givens," and those that are aware of their expectations. There are those who associate with people who will help define their idea of self worth or self loathing. There are people who are givers and people who are takers, and without each to give and take, well it wouldn't be right if it wasn't a push, pull world. It is the momentum of the world, pushing and pulling, being happy, being angry, being joyful, being sad. Tragedy and Miracles occurring together in this space of a day. Together we hold hands united, and yet we are divided with disappointment in our hearts; yet only knowing, only wanting the love of others to lift us up, and hold us tight, and tell us everything will be all right. We are human, we are flawed, and we can only do our very best, which sometimes is in fact fantastic failure, and we live till our heart stops cold, and the last breath escapes, and then to where do we go, only then will we know.

To my cousin, Jennifer, you are not here anymore, and you lived your life in the only way you knew how, and it was filled with tragedy and heartbreak, yet joy and success; you are missed. You will always be in our hearts and loved fiercely by those who knew of your struggles and how you fought to do the best that you could.


  1. I love the way your mind works! Great post. I read it all. Twice. I have always liked the quote 'Expect nothing and you will never be disappointed'. But on the flip side like you say if you expect nothing that is most likely what you will get. I am notorious for expecting little in relationships-never wanting to be the demanding 'bitchy' type- and I usually get little in return. Does a happy medium exist?

    I also like your thoughts on how positive/negative people see what they want to see. Two people are in a car wreck, the pos. one says 'thank god we are alive' the neg. says 'it's just my luck to be in a wreck.

    I'm reading a book by Wayne Dyer about 'expecting miracles' that is sort of along the same line. . .you attract what you focus on. It's an interesting concept.

    So sorry about your cousin. Life is so short and precious and we spend so much time focusing on crap that doesn't matter in the end.

    Have a happy Easter ; )

    1. Jody,
      I too expect very little in a relationship, and try to convince myself to be the caring one, the one giving my all, and being left feeling empty, well, I tell myself, I should feel good in the care that I give. It is such an endless cycle of being as you say "focused" on the negative and not knowing how to break the cycle because somehow it just feels right, as if it's the most that you deserve. We should talk sometime. I am hoping to make it back to Montana here in the next few months. I would love to meet up with you while I am there.
      take care,
      Happy Easter.

  2. I remember your tree where you sat!! :-)