The Pessimist or the Optimist

optimismTodays post is about trying to change the energy of my blog so that I come across a bit more positive. I’ve been told that my last few posts have been hovering on the gloomy  side of life. So today  I thought  I will attempt to raise spirits and try to take you with me to a brighter more pleasant state.  Come with me to the beach. The sun is out, there is not a cloud in the sky and the cocktail you have just sipped has hit all the right places. But you’re hot; so hot in fact that it took very little persuasion to get you off the horozontal and take a stroll, hand in hand, down to the water’s edge.

“Come on” he shouted, having emerged out of the sea like the man from Atlantis. He was shaking his head like a loveable wet labrador, laughing. His words had been crystal clear, carried on the warm sea breeze. I was smiling back, enjoying his attention like the proverbial Cheshire Cat, as he jumped up and down, waving and beckoning me in to join him.  “It’s great.”  I was standing immobile at the water’s edge… thinking… my toes wriggling and sinking into the sand beneath my feet. I was in a quandary. On the one hand, the idea of throwing myself into the cold sea no longer felt like an inviting proposition. On the other I wanted to share his joy.  “But… Brrrr… it’s cold!” The water  continued to lap around my ankles as I considered my options.

As I wavered, I heard a young kid laughing somewhere behind me. Attracted,  I turned my head, as if I could share some of the pleasure just by looking. A delightful and excited little girl was running towards me; her hair strewn behind her, caught up in the wind, her face laughing and illuminated.  The toy bucket she clutched was swinging in one hand. Her post-nappy-days legs were still chubby; rotating ungainly as they strove to keep her upper body and head from succumbing to gravitational pull.  The girl’s carer, looking less happy, I presume frazzled from having to be on watch, was a few paces behind. He had had to stop to retrieve the girls sun hat, which had lifted off and blown back up the beach on route.  The child, not understanding caution, ran straight into the sea. However, not being  strong enough to withstand the impact of the incoming waves, they found her poorly prepared and caught off-balance. Her head went back and her feet came up. Her laughter stopped immediately. The brief silence as she went under was broken by an almighty wail on re-surfacing.  Even though he had been caught out,  I give the poor dad his due, he had got to her quicker than I managed; his reaction time exemplary, as if he had anticipated the outcome. In an instant he had retrieved her,  lifted her up and carried her back to shore. I watched them both. He bent down on one knee to examine the damage. He used the corner of his tee shirt to wipe the sand and snot-candle combination that was coming  from her nose, while I heard from his mouth words that soothed and chastised her in equal measures: “Silly girl. Why didn’t you stop and wait for Daddy to come?” I saw him give his shirt a brief look of disgust before he pulled it back and said: “There now… you’re alright…  it’s all gone.” Wanting to, and seeing that I could help, I retrieved her bucket, which had been left floating in the swell. I walked towards them and handed it over. His response was as if automatic, his attention really somewhere else:  “Thanks.” Turning back to his  daughter: “This nice lady has brought you your bucket. Say thank you to her Georgia”. Her shoulders heaved as her little head turned upwards. Beneath her chin I saw that there was a small slimy strand of seaweed stuck in the crease of her neck. Her eyes were wide too, tear filled. Looking disheveled, sniffing back:  ” ‘hank ‘ou”

“You’re very brave. Such a big girl, that was a nasty tumble,” I added, trying to reassure, feeling sorry for the little mite. Before I turned away to walk back to the seas’ edge, I looked back once briefly and noticed that they had decided to call it a day; heading back up the beach.

“Come on in… it’s lovely.”  He hadn’t given up on me then. We made eye contact, smiled at each other. I waved him. ‘Lovely?’ I asked myself. I was clearly  in some doubt. Had I asked the little girl I don’t think she would agree with him and my senses were definitely telling me it was cold.  It was only ten minutes ago that I had been stretched out; day-dreaming, watching the world go by, looking out at the sea thinking it looked inviting. And  now…  “Come on….. you can do it.” He could tell I was beginning to have second thoughts. I could so easily go back with the others I was thinking.

I continued to smile at him, computing…  ‘He’s alright’  I was thinking, he hadn’t got caught up in his head and thought too deeply about going in in the first place. He’d just ‘gone for it’; done that manly showy-off thing that boys do. Run off ahead of me, doing a wild display of male strength and positive resilience… into the water and diving into an oncoming wave.  The latter was synchronised, I had noticed, at the point of…  I guess of almost no return… when the icy water reached his gonads. I assume he might then have been faced with a choice: either feel a wimp and turn back, or be reminded that bravado has it’s downside.

I made a decision and took a few steps forward: “Gee it’s cold.” Goose bumps were erupting on tanned flesh that had automatically paled beneath the surface. Another few steps and the water was lapping my bikini line. The  bigger waves, a cold shock, unavoidably smacked against my bare belly. I yelped with pain and pleasure while my stomach muscles instinctively tightened. Forgetting to breathe, I sucked myself in some more. It was futile to try and pull back from the cold. My hands, which had until then been kept out of the water, dipped into the sea. They were quick to agree with my feet… Icy.  Not sure at this point whether or not to take any more steps, I deliberately, yet tentatively, shrinking away from the effect, splashed my chest and shoulders.  “coorr..”  It was cold.  A few more forward steps and the water was at chest height. I had almost arrived at my own point of no return. The swell was no longer weak enough that I could be sure of keeping a safe footing. It was now or never. Should I go back or let go?

With the allure of someone being there, waiting for me, a positive thought arose. I might even enjoy myself, so I decided to let go. My feet lifted and, being obliged to kick, I stayed afloat; leaving the shifting sands of indecison behind. The sea quickly enveloped my shoulders and whipped away any of the remaining surface heat. I numbed, catching my breath. Swimming forwards against the tide, the exertion of trying helped keep my blood circulating. My core felt warm, protected, whilst my flesh, blasted by the cold sea, felt electric and alive. Out of the breeze with the sun on my face, I was pleasantly surprised. He had been right. It wasnt’ so bad after all.

This is the image that sprung into my mind, having listened to three of my friends who passed comment yesterday on my last few posts.  One came up to me and said he thought I was focusing too much on the negatives; dwelling too much on the odds which seemed stacked against me getting my book published.  “Far too  depressing and gloomy” he said, adding  that… “people don’t want to read about this, too depressing”. Not good for cosmic ordering either he pointed out. Another supporter left a comment that I should stay positive and not give up, which also suggests that perhaps I have been a bit too negative of late. And lastly, the third comment; a text that made me smile, pointed out that only a pessimist can be pleasantly surprised.

So am I writing posts that sound and come across as too pessimistic? Have I failed to recognise that there is a balance to be made? Have I not realised that I am more one way than the other?  Some might call me pessimistic. I think I am a realist  rather than an idealist!  I guess I can be all of them and none, depending on the situation. I’m just being ‘Me’, responding to the circumstances I see in the  moment . Experience has made me like this. I have learnt the hard way about being too optimistic; a girl who has run off down the beach in gay abandon, who has then got hurt by not having fully considered the consequences of her actions. I  have also been the pessimist; a woman who has stood on the water’s edge, decided that the sea looks too cold and then walked away back up the beach. She missed out on the fun of youthful frivolity. The idealist  is also inside of me; the one who has lain back in the sun, soaking up the suns rays, dreaming of an idea that could never have been sustainable. And now I have become  an optimist. I  believe I can deliver a book that some will enjoy and will find value in. My aim therefore  is to be dispassionately realistic  and enjoy the challenge of looking for ways to be pleasantly surprised.

photo by indigoprime

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