What the world has needed: Optimism

Over the last few years, I’ve thought of a lot of things that I felt the collective population of this world has needed; logic, respect, tolerance, faith, and accountability being a few of those. But I never thought of optimism.

Today, our 44th President was sworn into office. A vast majority of the whole world rejoiced, and I scratched my head at that. The whole world? Really? But I also have found myself caught up in this feeling of optimism, of hope, that President Obama seems to bring to the world’s stage.

No, it won’t be easy by a long shot, fixing all the problems of our country and by extension, the world. I do not envy him his job. Not even a little bit. We’ve lived in a horribly pessimistic world for a long time, and its hard to let go of that completely. Turn on the news and hear about what all is wrong. (Today alone, the stock market continued to flounder.) The world is not going to change tomorrow. He has a very long and a very hard road ahead of him. He has opposition from places unseen as of now, and he’ll age dramatically during his term with the weight of the world o his shoulders… just as every other President before him has.

But for right now, there is suddenly this feeling of optimism. This feeling that we CAN get things right for a change. And I think with that umbrella of optimism, all those other things I have thought we needed will fall into place.

As soon as you start to say, “I CAN do this,” suddenly things do start to fall into place. This need for optimism and confidence is echoed in the many self help books that can be found in almost every home. How can I help myself be more confident?

By believing in yourself and in your future. By saying “I can”versus, “Well everyone is against me and this is why.” This country — this world — has lived under the pressure of what we can’t do for a long time. Every day a new law is made telling us what we CAN’T do. And we’re always ready to blame someone else when something goes wrong.

Today, though, the tune changed. Today we said we will do this. We can do that. We are a strong people in a strong country. We need to take control and move forward with heads held high. And while I am still apprehensive to say, “Oh everything is fixed now.” and while I still have my strong fears (for things usually have to get worse before they get better), I feel this bubbling hope deep in my heart and gut. It makes me feel lighter. It gives me this new optimism that we’re going to be okay. We just have to believe.

Taking time to look back

I just finished reading the book Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella, in which the lead character loses three years worth of memories in an auto accident. Set in 2007, Lexi only can remember her life up through 2004, and she is left to struggle to fit into her own life which has changed dramatically in those three years that she can’t remember.

As I read — no, devoured would be more precise — the book, I couldn’t help but muse over how much my own life has changed in the last three, five, even ten, years. Not just how my life has changed, but how much I’ve changed on the inside.

Over the last few years, I’ve come out of my shell dramatically. When I take a personality test, I now straddle introvert and extrovert, whereas even just three years ago I still was firmly an introvert. Even as I thought I’d live in Nashville some day, I never expected it to so dramatically become HOME for me. I have made countless connections with people here and across the country whom I can’t imagine not knowing today. Every connection, every challenge, every change has helped to shape the person I am today.

Today is my second wedding anniversary, and its so true when I say that I love my husband more today than I did when we said our vows on that warm January day in 2007. To be honest, I think there was a time I didn’t think I’d ever marry… much less discover someone who is so completely my other half and without a doubt my soul mate.

It’s been over five years since I graduated from college, and its been almost ten since I graduated from high school. Oh my how different I am since high school!! Honestly, I’m not sure I’d recognize who I am if my high school self met my married-living-in-another-state-doing-odd-jobs self.

As Christmas cards arrived in the mail — several from old friends that I’ve known for many, many years — I looked at pictures or read notes, and I mused over how we’ve all taken our own paths in life. How this one has children. This one has gotten divorced. That one is on the fast track of their career. These are married and enjoying their life of marital bliss. And yet we all jumped off the spring board into life from the same place at the same point. While life has taken us different ways, in our hearts we will always be the dearest of friends.

There’s no way to ever comprehend what it would be life to lose years of your life’s memories, but it is possible to look back and see how each of us have changed. While some of those changes were wonderful and others hard to get through, they all shape us and take us to wherever we each are at any given time. I am grateful for everything that’s taken me to where I am today. Because I’m happy. I have my challenges to deal with on any given day, but those challenges only show me that I am alive and living a life of my own. Living a life I never want to forget.