Shawn L. Bird

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Optimism August 25, 2010

Filed under: Pondering — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:09 am
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“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
~Helen Keller

This was on the white board at Curves today.  It made me think of all the people I know with clinical depression, and how they so rarely achieve the things that the rest of us think they are capable of.  Depression steals optimism.  Pessimism does not breed greatness. 

If you have hope, then the pages you write, or the course you take, or the person you call up fit into a possible future that you are willing to trust will be a good one.  A depressed person thinks, “Why write it down?  It won’t be any good.  No one will ever want to read it.  No one would buy it.”  Words of genius are lost to the world.  A depressed person thinks, “I’ll probably fail the course.  The prof won’t like me.  It’ll probably be boring.”  They miss the inspiration and enlightenment of education.  A depressed person thinks, “Why call?  She’s probably not home.  She wouldn’t want to go out with me.  I would probably embarrass her.”  An opportunity for a new friend or a great romance is lost.

Optimism is just a glimmer of faith that not only will something be fine, but that it might be better than it is.  Optimists fuel creativity, exploration, adventure, and thought. 

I am optimistic by nature.  When I envision a poem, a painting, a needlework, a knitting project, a sewing project, a story or a lesson, I am not expecting failure.  This is not to say failure doesn’t happen.  I have a lot of unfinished knitting projects around, in particular.  However, that fact just makes it more exciting when one finally does get finished! 

If I wasn’t optimistic, I couldn’t do the job I do, particularly in the environment I’m in.  I have been teaching 18 years.  When I started, I never imagined that I would have spent 18 years without belonging to one school, without knowing that the school district valued my labour and creativity enough to attach me to a single school where I could blossom forth brilliance that would make my class one parents encouraged their own kids to take, as the generations wrapped around.  One that inspired kids to become teachers or writers.  Instead, even after all this time, I can’t even plan a semester in advance.  I can’t arrange a terrific field trip to Ashland Shakespeare Festival a year hence, because I don’t know where I’ll be in a year.  I can’t invest in products or literature for my classroom, because next semester I might not be in that school.  Keeping teachers ‘lean and hungry’ does not make for quality education.  I miss the teacher I could be with security.

Still, I’m blessed, because I always find some place that needs my service, and I know even if the students are in different schools around the district, and even if I’m only a semester in a school, that I am inspiring some of those I teach.  Just today I had an email from a former student wondering if she could switch into my English 12 class.  Ironic, since I don’t know what school I’ll be at this year, let alone what I’ll be teaching.  If I wasn’t optimistic I would have curled into a ball and given up a long time ago.

Optimism is the key to happiness and success. 

Anti-depressants don’t hurt.


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