Negative Optimism

EDITOR: Aaratrika Chatterjee

Once upon a time, there lived a sad boy. He was always unhappy, depressed, sour; it was not so because he didn’t try. He tried as hard as his age permitted. He even outdid them by a huge margin. But Alas! None of his endeavours ever turned out to be fruitful. Time passed, and he started getting more and more depressed. His mood started affecting others near him. At the end, he was left alone without a single friend or a dime of hope.

In such a dire time, he looked for peace in slumber, the eternal sleep. He decided to leave the realm of the living and fade out into the world of the dead. With such a motive in his mind, he went to visit his only friend one last time. “How have you been?” Asked our sad boy with a fake excitement in his voice. “As healthy as a bull and as happy as a dancing peacock.” Replied his friend. The sad boy hauled himself down on the bed, failing to keep his façade of happiness before his friend.

“What is wrong with you, my friend? Is some malady eating you away which I have not noticed yet?” Asked the sincere friend. He comforted the sorrowful boy who let out his long suppressed anguish. “Not a single day passes without something wrong happening to me. I have broken three phones by accident in the last three months. I have failed to score well in the last ten tests. My hair is falling; my mind is failing me. I do not like any food that goes down my throat. None of the beverages satisfy my thirst. I am always in need of one thing or other; but cannot have it no matter how much I try. My life is of no use to me or anyone else, my friend. I am going to end it for good now. For myself and for others.”

Such was the sorrow of the sad boy that he bawled like a baby. Tears pooled and fell down his eyes and the bass of his sobs tore up his friend’s mind. “Come with me, for I’ll let you see the value of your life and the worth you carry. And no. You shan’t speak a word while we travel to calm your mind.” Said his friend who was true and kind, and led his friend to a land far away, which turned out to be the land of his first night.

They came across a beggar as they entered the land of broken busts. He was old, sagging and quivered like a sapling in storm. The sad boy looked aghast for the old beggar’s ribs were on his skin and his eyes were sunken. His friend led him farther. A family of four greeted them from the side of the road. A sheet covered with holes was all they had for a roof. Three pots and a bundle was all they had. The father held a crying baby while the other two flinched in sleep. His friend led him further and they saw a homeless boy studying under a streetlight. His home was bereft of any such illumination and the light of his ambition didn’t let such a tiny inconvenience eclipse him.

As they progressed further into that land of poverty and pain, they witnessed horrible situations and people entwined within chains made of elder thorns. Their fate was as likely to change as the course of sun and yet they fought on and on without giving a second thought. The sad boy was transformed after the visit. “I grieve about things that are not in my control. I bemoan things, which do not matter in my life at all. All I see is what I cannot have. But till this day, I have failed to notice and admire what I do.” The friend smiled, for his friend had found the true path at last and he bid him good luck for the brilliant journey he would embark on.

Such is the story with us. We worry ourselves about what we do not possess. But we fail to admire what we do have, and a million others do not. Whenever in trouble, look around you at the people who have less than you, and are still happy with their lives. This is the formula of Negative Optimism.

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