Tag Archiv: ambition

Letter from The Optimist’s Mother

This year's school photo. Updated photo available upon request.

Hearty rejection of  unneeded (ergo all) advice a key platform

To Board of Directors, Optimist Club International

Dear Directors,

I would like to submit my son’s name for consideration as the next International President. He lacks many of the traits one might expect in a president (ambition, will to succeed, proactive problem solving) but this is in fact what makes him so perfect for the position. I don’t expect he’ll get much done, but I can guarantee that he’ll be able to speak at length about the possibilities of what could be done. And this is my point.

There’s not so much optimism as practicality in the person who works hard, plans ahead, and expects to achieve a goal. Far more exemplary of pure optimism is the person who plans nothing, does as little as possible (preferably at the last minute) and yet remains unalterably carefree, gently nestled in visions of the future’s bright and shining promise. My son is this latter model of a man and then some.

In truth of fact, if you were to pass him up, I am thinking of recommending him for use at a University. Someone somewhere is always doing a study of something. Sooner or later, they’re going to need a person such as my son to run through simulated interrogations, possibly a mock detention camp. While I would estimate his survival time under actual imprisonment to be somewhere around the thirty second mark, in a controlled experiment involving no physical pain, I would place his ability to withstand all manner of death threats in the number of decades. From experience, I can tell you the effect of warnings, ultimatums, and predictions of doom on his psyche is mathematically precisely zero. Explanations of cause and effect, biographical data from similar young men, personal life stories, the uninviting nature of certain outcomes, not to mention hot and smoky eternal quarters, all fail to permeate the most optimistic disposition you could possibly imagine. But will it be the Universities or you who snatch him first?

Recently, my son achieved an extremely high mark on an assignment which he had completed against his wishes. In the same course, he achieved a somewhat distasteful mark on the exam. Unlike the assignment, he was permitted to pursue his preferred style of low impact preparations for the exam.

Comparing your assignment mark, do you think, I asked him, that your lack of preparedness may have negatively impacted your exam results?

No, he said thoughtfully. I’m actually not sure how that happened. I think I did a good job. I really don’t quite understand it.

He went about his business (I think it involved tapping something repeatedly) cheerfully unweighted by past regrets of which there were none.

I share this little anecdote to underscore that in the spirit of the hopeless romantic, if you are looking for a true blue, dyed in the wool, flag waving (unless there is a watching option) optimist, I’ve got your man.


The Optimist’s Mother