Streams of Consciousness: Meditation on My Love & Hatred for Optimists and Optimism, from a Realist

“I can’t be a pessimist because I’m alive. To be a pessimist means that you have agreed that human life is an academic matter, so I’m forced to be an optimist. I’m forced to believe that we can survive whatever we must survive.” – James Baldwin

I’m probably romanticizing the optimist, but I have genuinely thought, across my way of life, that optimists often had it best, that no matter how dark and insurmountably musky their conditions where they were able to escape from these vexations and intricacies of life, whatever life threw at them, whatever life was delighted to throw at them. Then I saw that in this American society that it was us too, who were compelled to be optimistic but I’d be stuck between frustration and my sweltering feelings of defeatism asking how can I be optimistic. How does one feel when they are optimistic? I have felt it before and my preconceived notion of optimism kind of was ignoring the vexations, evils, and intricacies of life, living and the world, and acting as one is, putting on this masquerade of happiness, but this was only an ignorant assessment of optimism, because I had conflated it, unconsciously conflated optimism, with limitless happiness. It was when I did this, I willed myself to happiness. When I did so, I was truly not happy because I was happy, but I was imposingly happy because it became evident to me that when I smiled or gave a semblance of happiness, those around me were happy. They were complacent in this unsettling semblance. Unfortunately this exhausted me because I was not happy, happy with life. Being, honestly. I mean that in an existential context. I was not happy because I was not happy living. I was not happy because depression, post traumatic stress, irrational, justifiable fear that I might be murdered by a white supremacist agenda or some unfortunate circumstance, were certainly not things to be “overcome” in this racist and ableist country. I was not happy because I did not mean it. And to this day, I am unapologetically indifferent because I feel that I can only be happy only when it is time to be, when I permit myself to be, not when white people smile at me with a fearful grimace, in hope that I reflexively smile back to make their covert racism and racist microaggressions somehow justifiable. So this happiness must be an inward, and utmost honest happiness, never a contrived one and I will not compromise my feelings or time for anyone. 

My depression has always been overwhelmingly pestering and infuriating, living with a melancholy, distraught, unsure of where to charge these ambivalent feelings to. And so when I willed myself to feel happy, I soliloquized to myself that it was only up to me to change things, and this was also my surface-level misconception of existentialism, a philosophy I had found myself wanting to adopt sometime before and after i was a student in community college. Because there is this indirect correlation between the individual deciding for himself meaning and life, by his choices, and a brief moral valuation of the consequences of those choices although these moral valuations are not necessarily excluded to existentialist thought, it’s not at all it is just what a human naturally does when faced with choices, and follows the infinite possibilities of consequences of those choices and actions, even before choosing to choose, and choosing to act and with this – my slight misunderstandings of the existentialist philosophy, I imagined as though no one on Earth but I could physically help me into some sort of recovery, or could do what was necessary for me to do to to live life, and yeah, I was wrong from my conception of existentialism, but more or less, it had been up to me to decide things, but it was exhausting to live with such a rigidly individualistic viewpoint. It was pessimistic at the same time impractical as I cannot rely just on my own, and only myself  but it often felt that way because – think of being given a power, a power that could supplement in ameliorating the world in some kind of way – any kind of healing power, but you were ignorant of how to implement that power, you were almost scared of having that power, because with it, it gave you an immense responsibility to the rest of your civilization – to cure them all, to use it to cure mostly yourself above all else, but the conflict is within yourself, as you feel too unwilling to use that power, afraid you might use it for the opposing cause, that you might use it too much, or you might not use it at all. And these optimists, the lot of them, live so well, they live so free, and they act as if nothing can stop them though that is not the case. I love them because they can beautify the bleak to how they see fit, but I hate the optimists because they are ignorant of the evils of the world, both ignorant and of the will, remnants of absurdity, chaos and desolation that possess an unpredictability so unpredictable, that, they would need to become pessimists to make these unpredictabilities, predictable and forthcoming like they know a degree of truth that comfortably prepares them for the madnesses of the world and the sturdy futures they fabricate. I hate the hyperbolic pollyannas who act like no badness can befall them, like a dismissing swipe to natural pessimism, as if pessimism is unnatural, and erroneous, and they live as if every fiber in their being and crack between each and every one of their bones is submerged in a composition of optimism. And I notice that within the American society, there is a swelling anti-pessimism that overlooks the bad aspects of human existence, as if they are a phenomenality representative of pain, irrationality and abruptness. I hate the optimists for their immediate dismissiveness, but I admire and love them for their mental capacity to endure things without much complaint. Though complaining is not to be a condemnable action as it is a natural response to complication and danger, they look to the light, as I do. But these times around, I’ve unlearned to blind myself from it as well as look at it too much.