My Dearest Winslow,
I’ll love you until my dying day, and eternally in heaven I’ll laugh and play, until once again I’ll be able to say… I love you.
Originally, I had planned to write about a magical town where adventure awaits those who seek it. This little quaint town that deserves to be the center piece of a great American novel, is no ordinary town. The town holds a special place in both your mother’s and I’s heart, because it is where we had our first date –first kiss too.
The town is called Ohiopyle, and is hidden in the mountains of southwestern Pennsylvania, near your great grandparent’s home. It is also a mere stones throw from the world renown architectural master piece, called Falling Water. It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1930’s.
Yes, I was going to write about that special town, but I have abandoned those stories for another day.
While I can only guess what is more important for you to learn from the words your father writes to you, I feel that life lessons outweigh stories that will be told and retold throughout your life.
I hope and dream that you are optimistically floating through life, but tethered to the ground with realistic expectations.
The balance between optimism and realism is frail and often fleeting. It resembles the balance between swimming through dreams, and drudging through life’s day to day.
Optimism is beauty’s flirtation, while realism is a blemished reflection.
The case can be made to the importance of both, as it can be made that too much of one can destroy the other.
I will stop with the vague word dance of a dreaming optimist, and lay down a path of reality learned the hard way.
I can not say with any morsel of certainty, whether optimism is learned or inherited. I think that all children are optimists. They view the world as a place where happiness is always around the corner. Even the child that grows up within turmoil, abuse, and/or poverty must believe that things could get better at any given moment.
At some point, the world –reality, rather— steals those thoughts of youthful optimism and replaces them with truth. That truth, if you choose to see it, can be painful to learn but is always right.
How can you balance being optimistic, while not becoming untethered to reality?
The answer is found with maturity. Maturity is another way to say wisdom. Wisdom is gained by learning from life and others who know or have experienced more than you.
The easiest way to explain how a person learns to balance optimism and realism, is to provide an example of a person experiencing an unbalanced approach to a situation in their life.
A young man wants to fulfill his dream of becoming a movie star. He realistically knows that achieving this dream will be hard, and filled with rejection. Yet, he is optimistic that he will succeed, if only he continues to pursue his dream.
The young man sets out on a path to obtain his dream. He auditions for a role, and is optimistic that he will get it. At this point, the reality that he most likely won’t get the role, is a small seed within his thoughts.
He learns after the first audition that he did not get the role.
Reality’s seed is now buried in fresh dirt of doubt, within his thoughts.
He goes on another audition with optimism reigning free. Again, rejection.
Reality’s seed has now sprouted a small leaf of doubt.
Rejection after rejection, and reality’s seed has blossomed into a large tree that casts shade on his optimism. He now has to remind himself why he was optimistic in the first place. He has to remind himself that reality had told him that this might happen, but persevering through it with an armor of optimism was the only way.
When the rejections continue, eventually reality is all he knows. His optimism is so clouded in the dark shadows of reality, that it may be gone all together.
The young man eventually lies to himself with what seems like truth; “You will never achieve your dream.” The young man believes reality and never auditions again.
Reality has won this battle against optimism.
Whether you agree with the young man’s decision to quit on his dream is not the matter at hand. What matters is being able to recognize when our outlooks on life become unbalanced, one will destroy the other.
The same thing can happen if we were to flip the young man’s reaction to rejection around. Let’s say that he remained steadfast in his optimism that his dream would one day come true. Rejection after rejection, his belief never wavered as he optimistically believed he would prevail in the pursuit of his dreams.
Eventually, his unwavering optimism would destroy his sense of reality. He might never see the writing on the wall, and continue to pursue his dream for years and years. What sacrifices might he make in that pursuit? How many years of his life might be stolen because optimism is greedily blind to reality?
Again, I am not saying one way or another is the right decision, but an unbalanced outlook can cause you hardships.
If I had to choose one over the other, I would say that optimism is more rewarding (but still NEEDS a dose of reality). All great things in life are things you have to work to achieve. A great marriage takes work and sacrifice. A strong faith takes effort and discipline. A great career takes hard work and persistence. The list can go on and on.
Reality tells you what obstacles will impede your pursuit of happiness, and optimism will encourage you to overcome them.
You cannot over come reality’s obstacles, if you do not know they are there.
My advice to you, is to pursue your dreams with optimism, but with a controlled and persistent pursuit, so you do not lose your sense of reality.
Some of the most successful people on earth were recklessly optimistic. Some of the most unsuccessful people in the world were also recklessly optimistic. The difference lies in their belief of there own ability to achieve their dream, while knowing the reality of what it will take to get it done. They tackle reality with fierce abandon, and eventually learn that reality is often self-imposed walls of doubt which are in need of demolishing.
Reality sucks without optimism, as it becomes pointless and unmoving.
Optimism only exist within reality, for a world of pure optimism is a world that does not exist. A world that only exists in your mind is the beginnings of insanity.
While I feel like my ramblings may have confused you, or worse yet, not revealed any advice worth remember because of my distracting structure-less attempt at making a point; I hope and pray that you fined balance in your pursuit of dreams.
Do not let this world steal your optimism.
Do not allow your optimism to blind you to the obstacles you will face.
Balance these two things, and you will find success and happiness. If they become so balanced that they become one, then you will know and enjoy a life that few others have lived.
I love you sweet girl.
Always & forever,
If you missed the previous posts in this series and want to check them out, click on the links below. Thanks for reading, and please leave a comment. I love to hear what moved you, or your own thoughts on the current subject. Thanks!
H= Home Run!
J= Just Joking
O= Optimistic Override