I have always considered myself an optimist. Not a rose colored glasses Pollyanna, by any means, but someone who gives people the benefit of the doubt and expects that eventually good will win out over evil.
This has often been a personal outlook at direct odds with my partner of 27 years, who sees the world as a dark and malevolent place where danger and misfortune lurk around every corner. Ironically, she does not consider herself a pessimist, even though her perception encompasses the first two definitions of the word ‘pessimism’ on dictionary.com.
Lately, perhaps as a result of the constant barrage of apathy over empathy, and cruelty over compassion that I encounter daily in my work of animal advocacy, I have found my sense of optimism flagging. It’s hard to stay positive when the innocent continue to suffer and it feels like the bad guys are winning.
I’ve been thinking a lot about optimism lately and I’d like to introduce you to the reason why.
By the age of three, she had already been discarded by two previous owners. When she came to live with us, in this; her third home, she had baggage. She was beset with insecurities. She has had to find her place in a constantly shifting pack of rescued pets, where she has learned to fly under the radar. She is now eleven years old with a bum knee and a skin allergy, and she is the target of IQ-challenged Rocket-Boy’s exuberant extremely-loud-and-incredibly-close barking campaign to make her deaf.
All things considered: Taco is the living embodiment of hopeful optimism.
Whenever one of us heads toward the kitchen, Taco is right on our heels. She knows that food is handled in that room and that sometimes it falls on the floor. She has always been on hand to clean up errant cookie crumbs, pieces of chopped vegetable, the occasional piece of fat, spilled milk, and bits of cereal.
If we glance her way, she makes eye contact and wags her tail happily. The wider we smile, the more vigorously she wags her tail. The sparkle in her eye belies her eternal hope: that one day, in the kitchen, someone will drop an entire steak.
We can all learn a thing or two from her attitude. When we lose a job, or a friend; as we struggle with pain or illness or just the next idiot in a long parade of puzzling acquaintances, we should remember to remain hopefully optimistic about what’s through the next door.
There might be a potato chip, or a sugary froot loop; a dollop of peanut butter or a piece of carrot. A gift; a friendship, a new opportunity; the possibilities are endless!
(I wanted to capture Taco’s optimism on video, but the instant a camera is pointed at her she becomes the most miserably depressed dog in the universe.)