Expecting The Wind To Change: A Moment With Bill Reflection
How Is Your Wind Blowing
“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”
~ William Arthur Ward
A man walks into a bar, orders a beer, and says to the bartender: “Hey, have you heard this joke? People are intolerant assholes.”
The bartender looks at him and says: “That’s not funny you idiot.”
The guy just looks at him and says: “No, no, it isn’t funny at all.”
I’ve always wanted to use that introduction to get your attention and finally decided today was as good a day as any.
Well, do I have your attention?
I love the quote above for so many reasons. Bev calls me a cynical optimist. I’m constantly hoping for change in society, and I bang the drum and shout from the rooftops, tilting over windmills and blithely going about the business of trying to save the world, all the while cursing under my breath about the hopelessness of it all, that people will never change and we are all doomed to repeat a history that is bleak and foreboding.
Whew! It’s exhausting being me.
So which are you? Are you complaining about the wind, expecting it to change or adjusting your sails?
Well that’s certainly a bleak quote by Mr. Hinckley, but I have a hard time arguing with it.
What good is pessimism? Seriously, what possible positive outcome can come from constantly seeing the negatives in life?
I am a firm believer in the existence of GIGO, or Garbage In/Garbage Out. If all you think about are negative thoughts then your actions, by extension, will be negative. I am also a believer in karma, that if you live a life of negativity then you will attract negativity throughout your life.
I do not hang with these people. In fact, I have made a conscious effort to eliminate them from my life. Complaining accomplishes nothing. Pointing the finger of blame is useless. Casting stones is the action of a person eager to get hit by a barrage of larger stones.
Do you know someone like this? Their skies are forever overcast. Gloom and doom dog their steps throughout each day, and in an effort to lessen their misery, they point to that group over there, and those standing over there, and they explain that if we just got rid of those lazy do-nothings and those left or right wing mental defects then everything would be fine, and I could have been a contender but my parents didn’t love me and the economy sucks and if I could just catch a break and…and….and….
They suck the life right out of me and I avoid them like the plague.
So what are you?
Well, this just happened so we need to do this, or this is going to happen so we need to take these steps, or this is inevitable and this is the path we need to take.
Welcome to the world of the realist…it’s just the way things are, so we had better get used to it and hunker down.
People are intolerant? Live with it. Drugs and crime are inevitable? Protect yourself and your loved ones because that’s just the way it is. People are homeless and starving? Not much I can do about it and hey, it’s always been that way and survival of the fittest and pass the steak and potatoes please.
There is nothing wrong with reality, and there is nothing wrong with a realist in theory. I would rather hang with a realist than someone in a padded room who thinks Spiderman visits them each morning for breakfast…..but….
That quote beautifully summarizes the world of a realist. There is a statement of fact…of reality…and a summation of what needs to be done to change that reality….but there is no statement of actual action, and therein lies my problem with a strict realist.
A realist is a reactionary be definition. This has happened so this is what I need to do. This is going to happen so I need to make these preparations. This has always been the way so I need to adjust.
Nowhere in any of those statements is the possibility of changing the way things are or will be, but rather to adjust according to the changing landscape. Big difference!
“The essence of optimism is that it takes no account of the present, but it is a source of inspiration, of vitality and hope where others have resigned; it enables a man to hold his head high, to claim the future for himself and not to abandon it to his enemy.”
Or, to put it another way, a line from Tennyson’s Ulysses also sums up optimism: To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
There is a vitality to optimism, and there is a sense of having one foot in the present and one firmly planted in what could be.
“Ask not what your country can do for you…ask what you can do for your country”…..always prodding the established way of thinking….always testing the temperature of uncharted waters….always seeing things that never were, as Mr. Blake once pointed out, and asking why not.
While the realist is content to play checkers, the optimist is playing ten games of chess simultaneously, and the pessimist is off in a corner telling them both to stop wasting their time because the world is going to end in five thousand more years.
The optimist embraces PIPO, Positive In/Positive Out, and realizes that if change is going to happen then it is up to him to be a positive influence on that change and in fact mold the change in a positive manner.
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So Again I Ask
Which way is your wind blowing?
The marvelous part of this whole concept is that you get to choose. You can piss and moan about the wind, and be tossed about randomly without an anchor. You can accept the wind as reality and continually alter your sails and course, or you can see the wind before it happens and in fact huff and puff to become an integral part of it.
Yes, I am a cynical optimist. I have been disappointed for years by my fellow man. I have cringed in the face of greed and bigotry and hatred and complacency, but instead of locking myself in a guarded bunker and weathering the storm, I prefer to be part of a change to come. I refuse to believe that things will not improve. I refuse to believe that man is destined to wither and rot on a vine of his own construction, and I refuse to believe that brighter days are not possible.
As long as there are people willing to step up and demand accountability then we have a chance. As long as there are people who want to work towards positive change then we have a chance. As long as there is goodness in the hearts of man, compassion in the hearts of man and empathy in the hearts of man, then we have a chance.
Will you join me? Will you look into the future with me, gaze into the years to come and see things that never were, and ask why not?
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”