Optimism is a kind of rebellion.
I remember last Christmas when in the throws of making things both for business and for personal presents. I got so burned out that I actually reached a point of hating the fact that I made things. The only thing that kept me going through that time was chanting to myself that next Christmas (this year), we would have money instead. “We’ll just buy presents next year,” I said, over and over and over again. I’d make one more thing to add to the pile, and then envision a season of abundance for myself this year in which I wouldn’t have to make a single present unless I wanted to. It was a perfect dream, filled with hope spelled with a few dollar signs in the middle. Nothing wrong with it, I don’t think, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Fast forward into the first part of this year. I got so sick I could barely move on some days. In the worst week of this time, we managed to run up almost $1,000 in medical bills between doctors and tests. That’s an overwhelming amount to us, but I still know it could have been so much worse. Adam switched jobs and we have great insurance now, but his pay is based on how much work he bills and not on how many hours he is actually working. We saw just how well he had been doing at his old position and envisioned similar work, but on a new pay scale, and we saw the quick payment of debt, while still having plenty left over to take a vacation, maybe even go out of town for our anniversary. Again, not bad goals, but apparently not quite yet to be. We did do great at first, but over the summer, his industry got slow and just as the A/C bills skyrocketed across the valley, we found ourselves with much less than we planned to have. Instead of going away, we ended up eating an anniversary dinner at home put together with food I had gotten for free and we did only handmade gifts for each other this year, with the express rule that we weren’t allowed to buy anything new to make the gifts. He did get a gorgeous sweater, but I hated almost every minute of knitting it.
Now I’m sitting in August and we’re looking at things and I’m realizing that my dreams of just buying stuff for Christmas are most likely not going to come true. I’ll spend the time this year, just like last year, making things like a maniac during the day for the various shows I’ll have coming up, along with special orders and generally create, create, create for business, largely jewelry and knitting/crochet notions, while dealing with a gift list of people who wear virtually no jewelry and do virtually no crafts. So in the evening, after dinner, I’ll spend my “rest” hours knitting or crocheting or in some other kind of craft, making things for people I love and probably not liking it very much.
It’s not that I don’t love to make for people. I just never feel like anyone knows what goes into these presents. Not just time. Not just money for supplies. But every bit of regard I have for them, and every single desperate hope I have that they will not feel like they’re getting some afterthought thrown together handmade piece of crap because I didn’t feel like spending money on them instead. Like the making stuff is a contingency plan for the people I don’t like as much as other people, when nothing could be further from the truth.
In all of this, I don’t know what I’m trying to convey or share. If I could identify exactly what it is, I could probably come to a better conclusion regarding whether or not I should share it at all. Basically, I fully realize that people deal with problems all of the time that are about fifty thousand million times worse than anything I’ve been going through or ever will go through, but at the same time, the first part of this year represents what have been, for me, the hardest months of my adult life. I’m not trying to be a complainer, maybe just an explainer of what I mean when I say that optimism is a kind of rebellion.
Optimism rises up in me like the saucy, clever comeback of the person who always knows exactly what to say. Optimism forces me to smile and laugh and play music and dance with my children in the mornings or as I cook dinner, no matter how bad I feel or how bleak things appear. Optimism is what looks at another date night at home with my husband and waggles its eyebrows while remembering an indoor activity that is always free and always fun, and I’m not talking about playing board games.
It refuses to do anything but smile, no matter what’s going on, because the crap is simply not allowed to win. When life hands out crap, optimism refuses to polish turds. It throws out the junk and starts fresh with better things.
Optimism is for fighters. It’s for rebels. It’s for dreamers.
Do you dare to be an optimist?