Hello, dear reader. How are you doing? I hope this finds you well, with some moment of your day allowing for a particular delight.
I recently attended the funeral of an elderly gentleman and the experience has been on my mind ever since. The speakers repeatedly mentioned this man's optimism and simple pleasure in life, which accompanied him through many experiences that could have easily merited a very different outlook. I left the ceremony feeling grateful to have attended, but also wondering about myself and how easily I allow my challenges to sober the living daylights out of me. It's not that I dwindle into despair--I've always seen life as a beautiful gift--but I sometimes suspect I allow myself to be too troubled and withdrawn when perhaps it's possible to be more buoyant and impervious to the problems which are beyond my control. It strikes me optimism is less a giddy, soaring high as it must be a manifestation of a more grounded outlook on life, something that is rooted in a deeper sense of meaning and belief, and is therefore not shaken when external events appear chaotic or grim. In its deepest expression, I'd imagine optimism looks pretty outgoing, connected, and fun.
A grandson gave a moving tribute which included the following life lessons from his grandfather:
~ Life isn't fair, but we as people can be fair.
~ Earning respect is better than demanding it.
~ Honesty, integrity, and personal accountability lead to happiness.
~ If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.
~ Life is tough, but we can be tougher.
~ A firm handshake and keeping your word will serve you better than any iron-clad contract.
It seems to be my nature, whether innately or through experience, to be quieter and more cautious than pretty much everyone else I know. I don't necessarily mind this, but I also see many people I admire who don't operate with such reserve. Their optimism allows them to live more outwardly, and it seems like a good thing. One thought I took from the funeral is to continue reaching for a better balance of this within myself, to let a greater sense things will ultimately be all right guide me through thick and thin, and to translate that into being, yes, a little more outgoing, connected, and fun.
I probably won't change a lot. I'll probably always be a quiet and serious-minded person, rarely the life of the party (as evidenced by the fact I'm writing about a funeral), but I think that experience inspired me for a reason. I think I do need to change, a little. It's good to be reminded of the admirable ways people face their challenges, how optimism sets a rich tone for our experience that has very little to do with external influences or how it may appear to anyone else.