Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dear sons: be optimistic

Letter #9

Dear sons:

You father and I sometimes go back and forth about our views on the world. Sometimes he doesn't like my eternally optimistic outlook. I try to look at things and find the good in them. Every cloud, I'm convinced has a a silver lining. In tragedies and disasters, there's often a ray of light that comes from them. We've seen that happen in the wake of tornadoes, hurricanes, on 9/11. Horrific things can also bring out the best in people. I like to wake up looking at the new day as a new adventure. A chance to learn something new. A chance to meet someone special. A chance to enjoy myself. A chance to connect with someone else. I see the glass as half full.

Your dad sometimes doesn't see the world through rose-colored glasses the way I do. Sometimes that upsets me. Other times I have to remind myself that we're all different and we all have different thoughts and opinions and that is what makes the world as wonderful as it is -- our differences. I have to put myself in his shoes and think of why he is more pessimistic than I am. He's had different experiences. He's seen different things. And he often argues that his attitude isn't pessimistic, it's realistic -- and often that's completely true. I tend to sometimes not face reality as I should.

I often forget how different our lives our - your father and I. He heads off to work never knowing what the day will hold. As a firefighter and paramedic, he has to be ready for the unexpected. I'd imagine that's exhausting. Even when he's sleeping at night at work, he's got to have one ear on the radio, ready to jump from a warm bed in a milli-second to go off and help someone. I know that's exhausting. He's got a lot of training to do and a lot of certifications to keep up with. Some of his days are showered with rewards - he's able to help someone physically and emotionally and maybe even play a part in saving a life. However, many of his days are spent on mundane calls and sometimes it's frustrating for him  - like when someone with a small cut on a finger is being taken to a hospital as someone on the other side of town is having chest pain.

He has seen things in his career that I never want to have to witness and that are too gruesome to describe. He's also seen blatant abuse of the system, the kind that turns eager newbies into tired and often bitter veterans. The world he sees is much different that the life I lead. I can't blame him for having a different, more realistic view of the world.

Still, I hope as you grow you'll make an effort to look for the good, to not be afraid to experience new things, to be gracious when you encounter people in need, to be open to new possibilities, to not be critical of others. And keep in mind, we are Cubs fans - you can't survive in that world without a good dose of optimism. :)

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