Optimism: is it always good?

optimismAfter I had written about my melancholy/depression, I allowed that my default position about events is not optimism, but pessimism. My friend Cee had heard the benefits of optimism.

And indeed, if you Google “Is optimism good?” the first thing one might find is this quote from Kids’ Health: ” Optimism Is Healthy. It turns out that an optimistic attitude helps us be happier, more successful, and healthier. Optimism can protect against depression — even for people who are at risk for it. An optimistic outlook makes people more resistant to stress. Optimism may even help people live longer.”

So it’s settled. Wait a minute. The next article is a 2015 piece from the Washington Post stating that “Researchers have found a really good reason not to be an optimist.” It references an NIH study.

That Wapo article: “Optimism isn’t merely unhelpful at times—it can be demonstrably counterproductive. Telling someone ‘you can do it’ when they actually can’t doesn’t change the outcome, and it makes them more likely to exert time and effort on a fruitless task. There might be no clearer example than the fact that optimists spend more time looking for Waldo, but are no more likely to find him.” But the piece allows that pessimism is not curative either.

Ben Franklin

I had mentioned to Cee that I had long been attracted by a portrayal of Ben Franklin, on, of all things Bwitched. His character [said]… that “he always going through life expecting negative outcomes so that when something positive happened, he would be pleasantly surprised. It was a punchline that was supposed to be funny – the canned laughter told me that – but, to me, it made SENSE… ‘Perhaps I’m an optimistic pessimist — prepare for the worst, but when the very worst doesn’t happen, I’m pleasantly surprised.’”

I’m more vulnerable when I’m optimistic. I’m thinking of someone in a particular position who despised the action of a perpetrator, and rightly so. When they were in the same situation as the previous villain, I was optimistic that they, remembering how crummy they felt, would act differently. Nope, they performed the same damn way. As bad as the mess was, it was my optimism that bit me in the butt.

This is why, for instance, I’m not disappointed in politicians anymore. If they end up being better than expected, I’m pleased. But if they have feet of clay, well, what did I expect? I suppose this sounds cynical, but it tends to regulate my highs and lows, which in the main, works for me.

So the fact that I was optimistic that we’d be out of this damn pandemic by now is why I crashed emotionally a bit. This commercial really spoke to me.

Getting thru the rest of the pandemic

For MY sake, people, PLEASE get your damn shots!

rest of the pandemicHow am I going to get through the rest of the pandemic? Eighteen months after it hit our area, I have found the need to analyze the ups and downs of my mental health.

Thursday, March 12, 2020: Last choir rehearsal to date. The next day, sensing things would shut down for a while, I took out seven Marvel DVDs (which I didn’t watch for a few months). The church was canceled that Sunday.

Sunday, March 22: Church started on Facebook, with the pastors, their older daughter, and one church member. The music was previously recorded from past services. An ersatz experience, but better than nothing. It got better over time, with section leaders and a handful of others taping music specifically for the service. BYOC – bring your own communion, often Wheat Thins and my MIL’s homemade grape juice.

April: Starting to feel a bit isolated, I started to call people on the telephone, two per day until Memorial Day, Then one a day until August.

April 22, 2020: My father-in-law died, unrelated to COVID. His three surviving children were with him. No service at that time.

Mid-August to early October: Worked the Census. Did I feel totally safe going door-to-door wearing a mask? Why no, but it was important work.

December: Missing the chance to sing at church during Lent and now Advent sucketh.

I’m not throwing away my shot!

January 2021: There are a couple of vaccines out there. When will I get mine? When will I get mine?

February: When will I get mine? My wife got her first shot.

March: I got both of my injections, my wife got her second and my daughter got her first! Yay!

April 6: I went out to eat, outside, with three of my oldest friends, Carol and Karen and Bill, plus Karen’s old friend Michael. Besides being happy seeing them, this was incredibly liberating.

May 1: our daughter tossed her parents out of the house so she could clean the room. So her parents saw the tulips in Albany’s Washington Park, hung out at Peebles Park, saw the waterfalls at Cohoes, which despite it being in Albany County, I hadn’t seen in 30 years and my wife had never been there. Then we went to a small Lebanese restaurant and ate… INDOORS. There was only one other party there, but still. Radical stuff.

June 21: First day of IN-PERSON church worship! Hallelujah! Masks in church, but the coffee hour in the parking lot.

But then…

Just as I thought we were coming out of it, the country, and indeed my county, was experiencing upticks in the infection rates. So it felt as though every other plan that I was involved with was being altered.

I know I’m hardly the only one. Massive Science noted last month. “The past six months in the US provides a clear example of how vaccine complacency works, showing how over-optimistic assumptions about vaccines can lead to the elimination of other precautions too quickly. “

So, for instance, “Saturday, October 16 was supposed to be Young@Heart’s triumphant return to the stage in our hometown. And then came the Delta variant. Suddenly, it was – once again – no longer safe for us to rehearse together and perform live in person.” they’re doing the virtual thing.

The Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library has changed its  Literary Legends gala plans from about 150 people indoors and unmasked to 75 people, vaccinated and masked, a more difficult task.

I had hoped that, after a year and a half of not singing in the church choir, surely we’d be back together. Alas, no. And there are myriad other examples, from performances limited to funerals still postponed. And we’re in the situation in large part because… well, you know why.

Not so funny

I know that there are  “Funny Vaccine Memes To Get You Through The Rest Of The Pandemic.” They are so NOT working for me. (And to be honest, some of them I just don’t get.)

So I’ve become angry, even enraged, by the situation. Now, anger doesn’t last in me. But sadness does. After railing against the inanity, I’ve felt melancholy at best, or likely depressed.

I’m trying to discover remedies. Reading books won’t help, because I can’t focus on them presently. No video of more than about seven minutes can hold my attention. I read the lifestyle tips ad nauseum, which are just not attainable at present. I’m not sure of the solution; I’ve opted against medicating with alcohol.

A few months ago, I sought the service of a psychologist. It was remote, and it didn’t “take” for me. I’ll probably seek that route again.

June rambling #2; Insecure Billionaires with Tiny Hands

We all are Omar Mateen.

Brexit: Sam Bee and Sam Bee and John Oliver.

New Yorker: Why Brexit might not happen at all.

John Oliver: Doping.

How an Outsider President Killed a Political Party.

Bev Harris – Hacking Democracy documentary (2012).

Americans Against Insecure Billionaires with Tiny Hands PAC.

Oklahoma’s inferiority complex.

“That Black Boy…”

‘New data’ on school-to-prison pipeline is old news.

Jesse Williams takes racism to task in powerful BET Awards speech.

The Story Of How The First White Member Of Delta Sigma Theta Was A Segregationist’s Worst Nightmare.

Here’s that racist Red Cross poster that subsequently was removed:
red cross poster

President Obama designates Stonewall National Monument.

How to Interview a Rabbi About Kosher Marijuana.

R.I.P., Alvin Toffler, 87; his ‘Future Shock’ provided prescient glimpse forward.

The facts about kissing.

SamuraiFrog answers my frivolous questions.

Now I Know: The Barrier City and and Time to Go to Jail.

A story about a pair of flats that wanted to be a heel.

The Twilight Zone lost episode. Plus Suspense – Nightmare at Ground Zero, written by Rod Serling.

TWC Question Time looks at favorite adaptations of works that originally appeared in comics.

How they made Popeye cartoons at the Max Fleischer Studio.


Human Rights Campaign: an 18-minute tribute to the 49 victims of the Orlando shooting at Pulse nightclub on Latin night.

We all are Omar Mateen.

Sam Bee on Orlando.

Church whose pastor praised Orlando shootings is being asked to leave by landlord.

The Second Amendment doesn’t give you the right to own a gun.

Father’s Day

Chuck Miller: The awful part of Father’s Day.

David Kalish: How my essay squeaked into The New York Times, despite my doubts.

Nina Marinello: That was my dad…



John Rutter: The Importance of Choir.

Broadway for Orlando.

R.I.P. Bernie Worrell, the keyboardist for Parliament-Funkadelic and Talking Heads, has died at 72. The beloved musician lost his battle with stage four lung cancer.

Retro Y’all (Ralph Stanley Edition) and Just a little more with Dr Ralph.

Brenda Holloway is 70.

Lin-Manuel Miranda And Stephen Go Historical about Button Gwinnett.

Isolated vocals on “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys, featuring the late Carl Wilson

The Hat – Ingrid Michaelson. “Binghamton cold.”

Alice in Wonderland, circa 1966 and the appropriate Jefferson Airplane.

‘Zappa Plays Zappa’ Pits Zappa vs. Zappa.

The Case For 1971 As Rock’s Greatest Year.

Paul Simon to retire?

GOOGLE alert (not me)

East Lothian-based Brightwater aims to recruit thousands of SME customers. “A successful cleaning entrepreneur has joined the battle to win business customers from Scottish Water with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises. Roger Green founded the Brightwater supply operation with e-commerce veteran Richard Rankin…”

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