Monday, June 15, 2009

Can't Means Won't

When it comes to outlooks on life, I believe the world is comprised of four sorts of people: pessimists, realists, optimists and idealists. People either focus upon the worst, the most logical, the somewhat hopeful, or the best of all possibilities in life.

I generally see myself as somewhere in the middle: a cross between a realist and an optimist. So it hit hard when, twice this week, one of my children said, "Why are you so negative? Don't be such a pessimist."

Me? A pessimist? The woman who lies on the deserted beach when vacationing, even as the raindrops are pelting upon her, just in case the sun might finally peek around the clouds? The same woman who, upon receiving a certified letter from Son #1's former high school, held off just a tad of hope as she tore open the envelope, that it might be some type of letter of commendation? (Aside: Certified letters from your child's high school are NOT EVER a good thing.)

No, no, I told myself upon this remark. He's so off target on this one. Until I recalled the words I had just uttered to him. Some combination of: "Don't. Won't. Can't." (And this last one is his favorite upon which to pounce. "Can't means won't, Mom," he says. Is this a mantra from his Catholic high school or some saying from his Boy Scouts background? Regardless, it rather pisses me off.)

So, yes, I am forced to concede. The perpetual realist/optimist in me does indeed, at times, show the traits of a pessimist. And is this so wrong? Because really, maybe the pessimists hold the true key to happiness. After all, pessimists are never disappointed.

Still, living life under an umbrella of negativity is not for me. Frequently sarcastic, occasionally cynical, yes--I'm all that.

But I'd prefer to leave any out-and-out pessimism to those very rare instances when hope is clearly and absolutely elusive.

I can't imagine those instances will be many.

And yes, when I say "can't," I mean, "won't."

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