Hope, and other things incurable

Just watched Adventures of an Incurable Optimist. It’s a documentary by Michael J. Fox about being an optimist. I have to say that for a show about optimism, I found it a bit depressing. Fox narrates it and it’s the most we’ve seen of him in  a long time, and his Parkinson’s is in so much control.

I guess I say depressing because I would imagine it a difficult disease to live with. I know what it’s like to live full time with a chronic disease, but mine’s more hidden and less physically inhibiting than PD. And while I don’t think something happening to a celebrity is more sad because s/he is a celebrity, it’s striking because it took away a long, successful career much too early. Also the PD reminded me of someone I know who has it, and I know that she has her struggles. It doesn’t seem fair.

But…I digress. Optimism. I appreciated that a segment of the show talked about the optimism of Cubs fans. This too is something I know a bit about. I’m North Sider, born and raised. Every Spring is another opportunity for a new season, even if by mid-July or even late June you begin to realize there’s no catching up.

I guess I always thought of it more as persistence and tenacity, perhaps even loyalty, rather than optimism. But, whatever.

I also liked the segment where he talked to actors. He went to NYU’s Tisch school, and asked how many would say they were optimists. Most said they were. Not surprising, as I suspect it’s a good acting school, and if there’s one thing I learned from the head my own acting program was to always look for the positive – always look to optimism.

Cynicism is death of creativity.

No one’s ever kept an improv going by saying No.

How to use optimism? How to be….hopeful?

I’m not sure, really. I guess when I’m acting it’s a matter of finding the positive in my character – finding the reason to love my character even if others (and an audience member) immediately find him despicable. This is crucial. But right now I’m writing, and preparing to direct. I’ll have to give some thought to how that plays in to those actions, other than the obvious. (That being the mantra, “it’ll all work out…it’ll all work out….”)

But, is this optimism or just being positive? Is there a difference, really?

Too bad the documentary didn’t define optimism for me. I could’ve used the help it seems. But, really for me….I wouldn’t say I’m an optimist. I have been called cynical at times, and would say that there was a period when I truly was cynical. But I’m not that…and I’m not an optimist.

I’m an idealist. We’re like optimists, but we ignore reality.


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