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Senior Momentum - January 2016 - Optimism! You Gotta' Love It!


Optimism! You Gotta' Love It!

by Zoe Tummillo

When I was a lot younger I treated “projections” with a matter-of-fact attitude, or with no concern at all. Of course the future was there! Duh. Business planning stretched out on five and ten year charts; intentions for all kinds of things and issues were scheduled, listed, reserved. No problem; there’s time. Time was significant, but who thought of it running out, seriously, on a super-conscious, cautionary level? There was so much to do! There just wasn’t enough time, at the time, to think about time running out!

These days, one of my best laughs is when the renewals come in on credit cards with expirations out 10 years! Yay! I like that! Guess I’ll just have to make it to 90 or 95. Optimism. Can’t live without it. 

So where does that dark fatalism come from that seems to hover over the heads of so many of our youth these days? If not in the body language itself, in the morbid ways in which so many etch their skin with blankets of fatalistic doom and images that could scare them to death passing a mirror on a groggy, naked trip to the john in the middle of the night. Is it self-loathing or just a way to hide confusion (fear)? 

Yet others seem to celebrate their joy – juxtapositioning their flowers and clouds and birds optimistically against the skulls and crossbones and fascist symbols! I saw a young woman who was scantily dressed, showing tattoos from head to toe, all flowers! Extreme optimism? I hope she will feel as lighthearted about it when the flowers start to wilt around sixty-five or seventy. (Something tells me she’ll take it, optimistically, with a grain of salt!)

Like a weed that pushes through a crack in concrete, optimism is either there or not. It must be the same with pessimism; I just never got the hang of that one. It seems such a waste of time and seems to lead to places and conditions I don’t want – fears and depression, to name just two. 

 I asked around about optimism and it was interesting how some without it thought those with it were just PollyAnnas who had never had any real struggles. Those with optimism, on the other hand, felt those without it had something to look forward to, just needed to be shown hope and love and potential! 

Also interesting is the way a season of giving, of newness, of celebrating and selflessness seems to cut through some of the darkness that troubles some of our younger generation. I think that darkness is reinforced by the singularity and isolation provided by our new perspectives, paradigms and devices. 

I think that specific isolation reinforces some versions of pessimism – be the isolation electronic or geographical. Optimism feeds on positives like social interaction, creativity, dialog and empathy. What is it we say to a hurt or grieving person? “It will be all right.” That’s thinking forward; that’s optimism. 

“It’s always darkest before it’s totally black!” I heard a comedian say that once and it seemed both funny and prophetic; one could hopelessly embrace the darkness or turn on a light; I guess. (After all, it is darkest before it’s totally black!)

Depression and “darkness” in the young can tear your heart out. Yet, what part do we have in causing it? How did we help them discard their childhood – or miss it altogether? They get the world (and its gimmicks) that we hand them. Did we know (or care enough) about the negative potentials as we spun and wove and contrived and innovated? And even if we did, would it have mattered and changed anything? Awful questions, every one of them.

I remain an optimistic fatalist! One worry I have from time to time, is time itself. It has been running out since I was born, of course! (Actually, I didn’t expect to be here this long!) So, maybe there is still some time to make a little difference. It’s the New Year, after all. That’s when the optimists of the world make new resolutions!

Zoë Tummillo is a Business & Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Commercial Writer, dba COMMUNICATION CONCEPTS, in private practice since 1974. In addition to Commercial work, she writes “Senior Momentum: A Series of Situations”; “Pieces of My Path”©, essay memoirs of growing up first generation Italian American; and Senior Momentum: Front And Center!©. To contact her: email: