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Optimism isn’t for the faint of heart

By Staff | Mar 23, 2016

Sanibel has some fascinating social clubs, not the least of which is the Optimists Club. I tried attending a meeting recently, but was denied admission because I was too pessimistic.

The guy at the door asked me if the glass was half full, or half empty. I told him I didn’t see any glass, but would settle for a styrofoam cup instead. He tried again. He asked me if I thought the future is rosy and things were going to be great. I told him that what will be will be.

That still didn’t sit well with him and he told me that I couldn’t attend the meeting if I brought despair, futility, and pessimism with me into the room. I told him all I was bringing was a sandwich in case I got hungry. He told me to leave until I found the seeds of optimism. I told him I had some sunflower seeds with me and invited him to have some.

Mind you, I wasn’t being stubborn or inflexible. I truly wanted to believe. What can be better than optimism? Well, maybe a glass, or two of a good red wine at the right moment. But he just wouldn’t let me in. I tried a bit of persuasion.

“Look, I’m hopeful, upbeat, and anticipate only favorable outcomes. I have a sense of humor that carries me through the worst of times. But I’m also realistic. I temper optimism with a healthy dose of reality.”

He looked at me as though I had just violated his sacred oath. The fact is I truly wanted to be an optimist, but needed this group to jump start me. I just wanted to attend the meeting and try to understand what makes optimists tick. Do they really put a positive spin on even the direst happenings? I wanted to try some of that medicine myself. Hard times call for hard measures.

He said that optimists had strong belief systems and didn’t want to be dissuaded by agnostics like me. He said that optimists’ meetings were sunny, inspiring and full of hope. If I could come back another day with a different attitude I would be welcome.

I waited a week and returned to the Optimists Club meeting. The same guy at the door recognized me. He asked me again if the glass was half full, or half empty. I told him that not only was the glass half full, but that if he didn’t let me in my wife was going to come after him with weapons of mass destruction. He smiled and opened the door for me.

“Welcome to the Optimists Club. And remember, optimism is not for the faint of heart.”

-Art Stevens is a long-time columnist for The Islander. His tongue-in-cheek humor is always offered with a smile.