The Accusation of Optimism

drawing, 1980, 24×30″


I have used the following personal example of our culture’s predilection toward need = decrepit, victim, hopeless, helpless, anti-beauty, stay away, unkempt and usually angry, in another post

But I’m pulling it out again because it makes a point.

Years ago when I first entered the foreign lands of applying for governmental assistance in the form of Social Security Disability I was coached by a few folks to dress down.

They suggested I actually costume myself like a bag person and not bathe for a number of days


They said: “If you go in there looking like you do, no one will take your true needs seriously because you don’t LOOK like you need anything.”

I was appalled then.

And now.

There are quite a number of people I know and hear of who are in the CULTURAL WOUNDOLOGY CLUB (I call it).

Unfortunate but true: Having some wound whether it be a divorce, illness, addiction, broken ‘something-or-other’ makes you part of a clan. You belong. There are others like you. It feels almost giddy to share stories and feel the pleasure and alarm (hers is worse, better than mine) of the hierarchy in place, ready to dole out the slimy goodies we get from being somehow broken.

I can speak with authority about this because I know the club well. I have participated, paid dues, broken bread in the sanctity of ‘OH!- Woe-is-me-land’.

Don’t get me wrong here- The very finest medicine I know for a broken heart or soul is to be witnessed by another person in our pain. It makes it possible to feel the realness of it as we are reflected in our friend. We feel less crazy, less crazed by the anxiety of dealing with the cards we were dealt.

My temperment naturally pre-disposes me toward optimism or the high road or the silver lining.

I am blessed this way.

Actually, optimism thankfully interests me much more than other choices and the natural density of ‘poor me’ or: ‘give me attention please- I’m needy’ is not my natural direction.

So- when those people suggested I dress like a bag person to assure I looked needy enough to receive the support I so sorely needed I said a lusty “NO!”

What I did was write a one page description of what a day is like for me. I read it out loud to the intake person. I arrived in clean clothes but
left all gussification behind. I trusted in the truth.

I was approved in three weeks.

There is a part of my optimism many people naturally distrust because it does not go with their experience of what looks to them like a life of suffering.

Yeah… there’s suffering here. You betcha.

A good friend sent me this today:

“I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.” – Winston Churchill



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