Exercise in Optimism


This day starts like any other; an alarm pisses me off, and I’m out of bed, showering and trying not to picture the day ahead as a negative thing.

I mount my bicycle to ride in to work and I notice the light from a brilliant moon illuminating the alley, I see the shadows of trees and bushes on the road as I go by. Five-thirty am and you could read a book in this moonlight.

It’s time to imagine some perfect moments;

Sunrise, a cup of hot coffee on a deck overlooking the ocean. Stairs lead to a boardwalk, smooth wood, finish worn from the passage of people, a million trips out to the detritus left by the salt water. A dog at my feet, a newspaper in my lap, and a white sand beach littered with grass and brush breaking the waves of the Atlantic a thousand yards away toward the rest of the world.

Or a moment in a forest – the heat of the day held back by a canopy, green and moist; a cool stream issuing from a secret place in the woods. Birds flitting away at tasks, a few tiny creatures argue under foot, clear water tumbles over rocks downstream and animates the air with laughter.

An afternoon nap on a balcony on an acreage overlooking a valley at three pm. Sun and heat beating the fields below, cool air moving down from the mountains over a huge bed; two steps up on a gazebo perched on a platform at the front of the house overlooking the vista. Tired body on top of cool cotton sheets and deep pillows in the shadows of the afternoon air.

Ice-water, orange juice, and bread, on a hot morning in the shade at a café in Europe; 25 tables filled with animated occupants, conversing, laughing and arguing the most interesting points; concerned, pragmatic; poets, musicians and artists, all unemployed, all cigarettes and espresso, hell-bent on making the world more beautiful, on the edge of the cobblestones at Las Ramblas in Barcelona, a mile from the Mediterranean Sea.

A view from a train window; flashes of laundry; red, blue, white sheets and blouses; a table outside a kitchen door, fences, white brick walls, telephone wires, chimneys, thousands of dwellings flash by, a coffee and a note pad on the table in the dining car, packet of sugar spilled on the linen. The world, busy and confused outside in the fresh air, while the wheels chuck at rhythm the passing of iron rails and birds on wires.

Walking in a field; grasshoppers kicking away like a wave before you. Smell of soil, green prairie grass and gossamer wildflowers. Stands of poplar, distant and ringed with scrub. Crocus, yellow and purple, a valley that slopes away toward the river, and stands of silver brush like matted coat break the flat earth, tangled, fragrant, and impassible.

…every day.