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Even Optimists Die, Eventually
by Janet Eve Josselyn

Some people perpetually look on the bright side of things. Optimists, you might call them. I’d call them idiots who should be kept in the attic. In this economy, it is far too easy to dwell on the dark side of things, imagining every possible scenario where things could go awry. And when not all of those deaths and dismemberments come to pass, we can all feel uplifted.

I can feel genuine joy when I finish trimming the bushes with my electric bush trimmer and I still have all my fingers. But such delight is foreign to the optimists of the world who expect everything to be fine all of the time. Those people erroneously assume, for no reason, that they will be able walk the aisles of the supermarket without the snow load on the roof exceeding the weight-bearing capacity of the steel trusses that were spaced too far apart as a cost saving device.

Those optomists feel no special joy when they walk under a tree and a particularly large and heavy branch does not crash down impaling them through the liver. These would be the same people who clean their ears with Q-tips without so much as a thought about ramming the Q-tip in a little too far and penetrating their brain.

I never chose to go through life thinking this way, and in fact, I have tried to change my perspective from time to time. I once made a conscious effort not to visualize what would happen if I didn’t run fast enough on the treadmill. I tried to focus very hard on the TV and whether two movie stars had secretly married which caused me to forget about running at all. I flew off the back of the treadmill and onto the floor on my fanny. If I had allowed myself to consider the consequences in advance, I would have imagined something similar, substituting a particularly large and sharp piece of exercise equipment in place of the floor. But that thought would have kept me running.

So I guess it all comes down to whether you think that envisioning the worst might afford you the opportunity to do something to prevent it from happening or whether you’d rather blissfully assume that everything will be fine as you talk on your cell phone while crossing a busy street as a fire truck races towards you. I think you’d be better off imagining the worst and staying on the curb. Or maybe under your bed, safe in your home . . . although the bed frame could give way and all 300 pounds of the king-sized mattress would pin you to the floor where no one would find you until the cleaning lady came and you’d be dead by then.