Ken La Salle’s writing is rich in inspiration. Since his first blog on Recovering the Self, Ken has taken on a journey of exploring a writer’s life, covering an awesome lot of ground – be it inspiration, motivation, achievement of one’s goals an fulfilling one’s dreams, and the spirit of life itself. His fresh post And Still, There Is Water on the journal’s blog, strums an interesting, important thread – optimism.
Like Ken, I always found it ham-handed to illustrate the concept of optimism by the clichéd example of half-filled versus half-empty glass of water. Ken’s take on optimism helps readers see a less restricted – or a more . He points out that our glass in the example is both – half-filled and half-empty; true optimism, as Ken sees it, lies more in greeting the fact that there still is water in the glass.
What Ken’s view sparks in my mind is the focus on creativity and “room” rather than “substance” in the example of water in the glass. Underlying the whole example is a fear – the fear of losing something precious (water). Seeing it half-filled expresses a fear that we have enough; seeing it half-empty expresses (or so it is presumed) that we don’t have enough and should be worried. Ken’s view is more assuring – that whatever the amount of the substance, optimism means celebrating its presence.
Now as a writer, and I would take the liberty of speaking for an artist or any creative person, I am more of the kind who like to think what to do with the room we have available. Seeing the glass of water, whatever the amount present in it at that moment, I would say a truly optimistic person will think “cool, so we have some water as well as a lot of extra room there; let’s see what we can do with it.” Creativity transforms space and fills time with activity (thinking and all abstractions included). It carries optimism as an intrinsic quality – the confidence that we can use something – a substance, empty space, any resource, time – to make life better.
Is the creative life all confidence, or free of fear? Not at all. I believe fear is almost always there in some form. It’s the form that counts and defines the state of mind (or being, existence – you name it). Beyond that comes stoicism, arguably a fearless position on emotions and detachment. How creative can you be without fear, or those “negative” emotions, if it all, given that you count creative anxiety as a kind of fear. Back to the example of water in the glass, creativity-driven optimism would evoke excitement in anticipation of using the empty space for something good, say painting it with addition from one’s creative imagination.
Fearing that I’ll digress further into psychology, I’ll sum it up with the statement that optimism is staying fearless amidst your fears, and being able to see the dynamism in stillness – something that calls for creativity in thought and action.