on definitions, and the practical application thereof

Published August 9, 2011 by April Fox

optimist (n):
1. one who usually expects a favorable outcome.
2. a believer in philosophical optimism.

pessimist (n):
1. a person who habitually sees or anticipates the worst or is disposed to be gloomy.
2. an adherent of the doctrine of pessimism.

realist (n):
1. a person who tends to view or represent things as they really are.
2. an artist or a writer whose work is characterized by realism.
3. an adherent of realism.

the first two are foolish. expecting a positive or negative outcome in any situation comprised of variables rather than constants is ridiculous.

if i take one hundred dollars to the electric company to pay my one hundred dollar electric bill, i can expect a positive outcome. this is not optimism. this is realism.

if i take fifty dollars to the electric company to pay my one hundred dollar electric bill, i can expect a negative outcome. this is not pessimism. this is realism.

both of the above are based on constant factors.

it’s reasonable to expect a certain outcome based on things you know. it’s unreasonable to expect a certain outcome based on things you don’t know.

i quit believing in candyland fairy tales about the time i was old enough to read the original grimm’s. there are happy endings. there are beautiful stories and amazing lives and good golly, mickey mouse, dreams really do come true. but to expect that, to live based on the assumption that things will always work out, is absolutely ridiculous. and to assume that someone assumes the worst because he doesn’t automatically assume the best is equally ridiculous.

why is the concept of realism so hard to understand? when i walk out the door, i don’t know that i’ll be coming back. there are meteors, track-jumping freight trains, escaped circus elephants… drunk drivers, cancer, suicidal tendencies.

i don’t know that things will be ok. i have every reason to believe that in general, things tend to NOT be ok. but i still live every single second for what it is, right now. i want to believe that things will be ok, and when they are, they are. anticipating the potential negative variables doesn’t make me a pessimist, and it doesn’t mean that i want the worst to happen or that i’m going to make it happen. you can decide to have a good day or to have a bad day, and much of the time, that decision can in fact shape your day. but if you decide to have a good day and then you find out your best friend has cancer or your grandmother died or your grandpa is seriously injured and sick, there is no fucking amount of positive goddamn thinking that is going to change that shit.

it’s fucking realism, ok?

my reality right now is this: i have the most amazing, bright, happy, precious children in the world. i am more in love than i ever thought my jaded old head would let me be with the most brilliant, creative man i’ve ever known. if i believed in such garbage i’d call us soulmates, but i don’t. i have a wonderfully supportive family of relatives and friends, a cozy little shack in hicksville, a huge fucking talent that i’ve wasted thus far and a job that i despise. i am willing to work my ass off to keep those things, except for the job-i’m working to be able to be done with that. i’m willing to work to make sure that my kids and my love and my life reach their full potential, to get us out of this shithole town we’re in, to support my partner in doing what he loves and being successful at it. but the reality also is that things change-that when you’ve been bipolar for 20 years and have stared at that big metaphorical black hole, nothing is certain. you cannot anticipate any outcome, because you never know. all you can do is get through each day and reach as far as you can for the next and hope like hell that there’s something to grab on to when you get there.

it doesn’t mean you don’t love as much as you should, or that you don’t want as much as you should, or that you don’t care as much as you should. it means that life has proven to you that anticipation is pointless, and you can only live with what you know. it means you have to live in reality, and it’s not always fun, but it is what it is.

3 comments on “on definitions, and the practical application thereof

  • For me, sending positive vibes to someone is a polite thing to do. It's my non-god believing way of saying, "I'll pray for you". I hate religion. Just my opinion but religion is for the weak. Aside form religion, the whole god thing. Oy. That's all I got. Now I'm too fucking nervous to do anything but keep looking up to the skies for the big meteor. Thanks.


  • i don't think sending positive thoughts hurts anything; i just don't think that believing something good will happen makes it happen or vice versa, and i see no point in behaving as if you know whether the outcome of a given situation will be positive or negative. if you assume the positive end, you're setting yourself up for disappointment, and if you assume the negative end, it's far too easy for it to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.


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