The Optimism Project

Chinese Gardens, Montreal Botanical Gardens 2015Optimism? Three whole pages? What sort of a school project is that? When I was your age, I was doing sums, finding the highest mountain in the world in the atlas, looking at leaves through a magnifying glass, important stuff like that. What will the world come to if all you kids do is think about optimism?

Your dad shouldn’t have sent you to me, my dear. I’m the family pessimist as he well knows. As far as I’m concerned, optimism is for the birds. Think everything will end up in a rosy glow? It depends on the occasion, that’s all I know. Some things will turn out well, others won’t. And you better be prepared when it doesn’t.

I learned pessimism from Charlie Frent in elementary school. Playing conkers in class, he was, when all of a sudden his conker got the teacher in the back of the head. Next thing we knew, Charlie was over his desk being whacked on his behind with a ruler.

That did it for me. Charlie didn’t give a…I mean, he wasn’t fazed at all. Although who can read another’s mind, especially at the age of seven? He just gave the teacher the finger (behind his back of course) but I was marked forever.

Never see a conker, but that I remember the lesson I learned that day: always watch out because just when you’re having fun, you get whacked on the behind.

What? Well, that may be so nowadays, but back in my day teachers were allowed to. But there, the past is past and you’re young and you need to write three pages on optimism for your teacher. Let’s see if I can dredge up something for you.


Hm…. It’s a shame your Uncle Freddy isn’t here.

Make a cup of tea, why don’t you, dear? That might help.


It’s not so easy this optimism lark. Get out the dictionary, there’s a love. “Hopefulness and confidence about the future.” Hm… What with the Canadian dollar in the state it’s in, and all those wars going on…

Don’t rush me, dear, I’m doing my best. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And then there’s the oil sands and that fracking and global warming… You see? Life’s no picnic.

Hm… You’ve certainly given me a tricky challenge here.

Well, we can’t waste all day thinking and thinking. That’ll butter no parsnips. Let’s see if my bread has risen, shall we? I think I’ve finally got the recipe right. The number of times I’ve tried, you wouldn’t believe. But today I added some maple syrup – just a smidgen. I’m sure that’ll do the trick and it’ll be perfect. That’s the way it is in life, you try and try and somehow it all comes right in the end.

You pour the tea, there’s a love, and I’ll get the butter and jam, and then we can sit down and work on this optimism thing properly. I know it’s tricky but you’ve always got to think ‘excelsior’ my dear. And you know what that means, don’t you? Grab the bull by the horns and ride ’em cowboy.

What? It doesn’t? ‘Onward and upward’? Is that what it means? Well, aren’t you the clever little thing, then! It’s a wonder you can’t write your own essay on optimism!

Oh I’m looking forward to this bread, aren’t you? And then we’ll go and feed the birds. And check whether my sunflowers are starting to flower. I’m sure I saw the teeniest little bit of a bud yesterday.

Smell that bread? No, no, smell it properly, that’s it, breathe in deep and close your eyes. Nothing like it, is there? When you smell fresh bread right out of the oven, you always know it’s going to be a perfect day.


Inspired by The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Optimism

2016 is my year of the Thursday Blurt. These are quick-writes, when I take advantage of a spare five, ten minutes and write whatever comes to mind, starting with something tangible, something I see, smell, taste or hear or touch at that moment. I’m going to try to post one every Thursday through the year!


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