Friday, 7 November 2008

"Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" - Eric Idle, 1979

Although John and I have a multitude of ideas and feelings and values in common, there is one area of life in which we differ greatly. John's a natural pessimist, while I'm a natural optimist.

How much of that difference is due to our nationalities is a matter of debate. Perhaps our friends and family could help with that issue. There's no doubt that Britons tend to look more negatively at the world, while Americans are generally more positive. But in my personal opinion, the differences in attitude between us form part of each of our personalities - they are the way we "are wired up", as my astute Arkansas grandmother would have said. I've always thought that was one of the things that attracted us to each other in the first place.

But why am I writing about this today? Because of the condition of the vase of flowers on our kitchen table.

John brought home some bright yellow flowers a few weeks ago. We have been amazed at how long they have lasted. But this morning, they looked like this...

(Click on either photo for a full-sized version.)

Something about the condition of the flowers caught my eye. About half of them are still standing, while the other half aren't faring so well. Just like us, as a couple - half optimistic and half pessimistic - I thought!

Years before I moved to the UK, I found some drinking glasses at a little shop in Houston. They were just perfect for us. I bought a set of 4 and gave two of them to John, for his home in Hertfordshire. When I moved to Britain and John and I got married, the 4 glasses were finally reunited.

Here is one of the Optimista/Pessimista glasses...

I can't help but recall a joke that was always a favorite of my father's. We probably heard it back in the 1960s. To make a long story short, the joke is about two children, a pessimistic boy and an optimistic girl, who participate in an experiment. The pessimistic boy is put in a room full of books and toys, but he is still unhappy with the items available to entertain him. In contrast, the optimistic little girl is put into a room full of horse poop (to use a polite term), and the only other available item in the room is a shovel. Expecting to find the little girl disappointed with the lack of books and toys, the researchers are astonished to see that the child is laughing and smiling...and shoveling with great enthusiasm. When the surprised researchers ask her what she is doing, she says with a big smile, "Well, with all this sh*t piled up in here, there must be a pony under there somewhere."

My father always told me that the little girl could have been me.



At 07 November, 2008 14:09 , Blogger bronx boy said...

Great story! Being an optimist always brings a ray of sunshine into your and others' lives.

At 07 November, 2008 17:34 , Blogger chris hale said...

It's true. You do seem to be more upbeat and optimistic.

If someone posts a photo of trees in autumn (aw, OK, Fall) on their blog, US readers will exclaim, 'Hey, cool picture!', whereas we Brits would say, 'Great. Remind me that winter's nearly here, why don't you? I s'pose I'd better go and rake some leaves up. And it looks like rain.'

At 07 November, 2008 17:59 , Blogger Steve White said...

I have noticed that, shall we say, overly optimistic view of my fellow Americans, and less optimistic view of my fellow Brits. I like to think of it as we British have a more 'realistic' view rather than pessimistic view.


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