ContemplAgeing

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Hope, Optimism and Aging

                 Holding onto the attitudes embodied in my two neologisms is not easy.  At times it is much easier to embrace pessimism, “the doctrine that reality is essential evil.”  Certainly, there have been and may yet be times when life and reality feel this way to me.  What I have come to realize is that this perception is rooted in my tendency to want things to be “perfect,” an inclination rooted in my own obsessive and compulsive approach to life, my wish to be in “control.”  Both perfection and total control are impossibilities for me, and for all of us.  In fact, as I continue to learn, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”

                 Now, in my sixty-third year, I am coming to accept the true meaning of the central doctrine of optimism that “this world is the best possible world,” for all of its tragedies and disasters, natural and man-made.  I am also pleased to say that I am coming to believe that our humanity, with all of its problems, is remarkably amazing, incredibly hopeful, and filled with infinite potential.

                 To reach this point I have traversed my doubts and fears.  I have been, and probably will continue to be at times, like the angel in a famous New Yorker cartoon whose cynicism and skepticism were manifestly obvious.  The angel was depicted looking over God’s shoulder at work on sketches of a man and a woman.  While studying the work, the angel says, “Looks good on paper!  Think it will work?”  To that question I can respond, “Yes!”

                 Perhaps in 2010, we can all try to be more optilistic and pessilistic, whatever the circumstances of our life experience.  Easier said than done—and possible!

Posted in HopeOptimismPessimism on 31 December 2009

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