Optimist, Pessimist, Realist; Which One Are You?
While walking beside the river with a friend the one evening, I spotted a small black furry animal at the edge of the path. When we stooped down to get a closer look, we saw it was a tiny baby bird. When the bird saw us it made its way toward us, awkwardly navigating the gravel path, and climbed up onto my friends outstretched hands! We were enchanted by this so-tiny creature, opening its beak in a barely-audible cry, looking to us for help and trusting us.
We cast about for the mother bird, for a nest, for anything that would provide a clue as to what we should do with this baby bird. As far as we could see there was nothing but long swamp grass. If there were a nest hidden there, we were not going to find it.
“Poor thing! What are we going to do with it?” I asked. [the Optimist]
“I’m afraid it’s not going to survive,” said my friend. [the Realist]
She phoned her husband for a third opinion and he agreed with her: This was a wild baby bird without a mother. There was nothing we could do. It would not survive.
We walked on, my friend cradling the baby bird in her hands. We were still unwilling, optimist and realist, to surrender it to its fate. Finally, we accepted the fact that we had to put it down. We found a semi-sheltered place close to the edge of the path. I was afraid it would come to us when we put it down, as it had when we first found it, but it just sat there quietly. Seems the baby bird was a realist.
As we continued on our walk, we talked about optimists, pessimists, and realists. It struck me that we need all three in a community. A community made up entirely of optimists is ungrounded. A community comprised of pessimists is unlikely to accomplish anything. A community of only realists lacks the balance offered by the perspectives of the optimist and the pessimist. A community benefits from the gifts of all perspectives. It ensures the most wholistic outcome to any discussion.
It is challenging to build a community with a group of people who comprise a mix of these three perspectives because the discussions can bring us into chaos. Chaos, however, is not a bad thing because it reminds us to enter (or re-enter) the stage of emptiness. We need to be respectful of those who have different perspectives than ours. This awareness and acceptance enriches our discussion and leads the community to that superior outcome.
Are you an optimist, a pessimist, or a realist?
Photo: Lori Gosselin