Seeking Optimism on a Beautiful Cloudless Autumn Morning


It was a beautiful autumn morning – cloudless, warm for the season, the clear sky broken only by the flight of ravens, black against the blue – when he realized he might have only another thirty years to live.

Now, this may sound silly to you.  It’s not like those dreadful, or sometimes up-lifting, stories in which a woman or a man has but six months, or a year, to live.  Their valiant struggle against an ultimately victorious disease.  A story whose outcome was never in doubt.

We’re supposed to find those stories inspiring, because of the indomitable human spirit evident in the fight against unseen forces, whether cancer or mental illness.  However, as we all know, as he knew that autumn morning, the human spirit, to say nothing of the human body, is quite domitable.

He knew that because of everything he had seen and heard and read in his life, and it caused a small wave of fear and sadness to come over him.  He recalled how quickly, looking back over it now, the last thirty years of his life had passed, and with what consequence.  Oh, it was the same old story: love, loss, money, destitution, family, birth, joy, marriages, war, death.  Not necessarily in that order, but they were all there nevertheless.  All of that and more had filled the last three or four, or five, decades of his life.  The fact that it had all happened did not make him feel prepared for the next three decades, nor encourage him as to what he might yet accomplish.

So he sat there, looking out the window at the ravens flying across the clear blue sky and wondered what the point was, or if there was a point, or at what point it became obvious that life had a point, and that it was worth carrying on, right to the end, valiantly pursuing … something.

“That’s too morose a thought for such a beautiful morning”, he thought.

He’d seen people, many people, in fact, who had clearly given up; who sat on their porches, or in front of their TVs, waiting, waiting, waiting, for the Grim Reaper to find them.  It was probably pretty easy for the Reaper.  They weren’t exactly hiding, or running away.  Just sitting there, mouldering in place.

No, he thought, that’s not what he wanted to do with the next thirty years of his life; being optimistic, you see, that it might turn out to be thirty, not twenty, or five.  If that was optimism, then he had no need for fatalism at all.  He did need some encouragement, though.

The amazingly blue sky, the ravens, the autumn morning – none seemed enough to encourage him to take up his pen and write something inspiring, or at least competent and worth reading.  Things just seemed to escape him on mornings like this, his mind wandering around, poking under this rock, behind that bush, coming up empty-handed, once again.  Five hundred words.  If he could just get



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