I am a cynic. Oddly enough, it appears that I am not perceived as such by a large number of people who know me. Which makes me wonder if I am not really a cynic, but rather a cynic wanna-be, which makes me wonder why anyone would want to be a cynic, which makes me wonder how, in the terrible world we live in anyone can be anything but a cynic, which makes me want a drink. Usually iced tea, but tonight it’s Cuban rum and coke. Not alone, that would be bad. Tonight I am drinking with our cat. She’s great company, if a bit quiet, which is great because I apparently have a lot to say.
Back on topic though, I was very surprised when one of my colleagues today asked me how I managed to always be so positive, even when things were going wrong. She must have thought I had taken leave of my senses when I stood staring at her, mouth open and absolutely flabbergasted. How was I supposed to answer that question? How did I stay positive? I didn’t! I look for, and frequently find, the worst in most situations. I am rarely surprised when someone shows a darker side of their personality. And when man-made disaster strikes, it never surprises me.
Or so I thought. Then I went back and read a lot of the things I have written in the last couple of years, both on my blog and in my other writings. Seems I do get upset about people being asshats (try using that phrase around your place of education / employment, I am trying to bring it into the vernacular) and that I am consistently surprised by the evil that people perpetuate upon one another. Turns out I actually do have some small shred of hope for the human race and all of its many, idiotic, members. No, not you. You I like. It’s the other idiots that are getting my goat lately.
Then I started thinking about the things that I have been reading and the web sites that I have been patronizing lately. TED.com is the first one that came to mind, and if any site of the 14,292 websites on the internet right now (I think that’s an accurate count, isn’t it?) count as optimistic and positive, that would be the one. If you go there, you know what I am talking about, and if you don’t then get your butt over there immediately. Don’t go if you have less than a half hour though – you’ll want to watch a whole video.
Then I thought of the amazing video by Dr. Randy Pausch, his “Last Lecture” talk. If you can watch that and not feel uplifted, not feel amazed at his capacity for hope and optimism, you are the type of cynic that I aspire to be. As a parent, watching his video was challenging, knowing he was leaving his family behind, and knowing that he had somehow made peace with that – that takes a strength I hope I never have the opportunity to find in myself. I have watched it more often than I can recall, to the point where I know some of it by heart, and after every watching I leave it feeling more hopeful and more inspired that I did the last time. Seriously, go watch it.
And that lead me to thinking about the tremendous people that I am blessed to have in my life. My family is huge and diverse, and I am blessed to have expanded it greatly in the last couple of years. And family doesn’t just mean those that are related to me by blood or marriage. Family, to me, includes all the people who have let me into their lives, and have welcomed me into theirs. And I am damned thankful for all of them, and lucky to have found them.
But what really put the nail in the coffin of my self delusion was me remembering the very best part of every work day – when, at the end of the day, I walk in the door of my home and my boys greet me with “jump hugs.” As they throw themselves from the top step, trusting that I will catch them, screaming “DAD!!!” at the top of their lungs, my throat tightens because my heart feels like it is going to explode right out of my chest with the love I have for them, and when they squeeze me tight, right then, right there, I know the world is a good place, full of good people.