The Pessimistic Optimist


The Pessimistic Optimist

I’ve never considered myself overly optimistic. I’m also not a pessimist. I feel like I usually tiptoe the middle ground somewhere in the vicinity of realism (whatever that actually means). Lanny, on the other hand, is an optimist through-and-through. I’ve known this since our first date, which was climbing a mountain, just a little (massive) one called Mount Rundle. But, I’ll save the details of that infamous adventure for my memoir. According to Lanny, the summit of the mountain was always just a short distance away. It wasn’t.

Lanny’s optimism, combined with his confidence, usually makes me trust him implicitly. When he told me hiking 32 km a day with a 70 Ib backpack while trekking through Patagonia was reasonable and doable, I believed him. It was doable, as he prescribed, but it was decidedly NOT enjoyable for me.

About once a year, I follow him down some double black diamond ski hill (expert level, for those not familiar with ski slope lingo) because he proclaims, “I know exactly where I’m going!” His enthusiasm alone makes me trust him on these excursions. (Yes, I also married him!) Every year, like clockwork, I end up sliding down the double black diamond hills as an expert in bum-sliding, not actual skiing. As I get to the bottom, I feel lucky to be alive, and promise to remind myself next year that I’ll never trust his ski-hill enthusiasm again.

Lanny’s optimism — for better or worse (Yes, I married him!) — shows up in the entirety of his being. From the simple optimism of not bringing a rain jacket on a four-day hike to hoarding his beloved Michael Jackson VHS tapes from 1987 because he might watch them one day.

Like the yin to his yang, my realism has to pull him out of the clouds sometimes. Married or not, this is not the most enjoyable position to be in. Being the buzzkill to his genuinely contagious optimism isn’t fun for anyone.

“You need to get rid of your MJ tapes before we move.”
“Hell no! I am NOT going winter camping.”
“Nope, you do not have time to go for a run on the same day where we’re shooting an 18-hour wedding.”
Rinse and repeat.

Yesterday, Lanny was cleaning out the freezer (for the record, this is the one and only time in his entire life he’s done this task) and discovered 36 bananas, brown, frozen solid, in the bottom drawer of the freezer. I could hear my inner optimist screaming, “DING! DING! DING!” At that moment, I remembered that when I see a rotting banana at the bottom of a bowl, I immediately toss it in the freezer with the hopes of making banana bread one day.

Sitting in that freezer was the reminder of the kind of optimism we all have hidden within us to make delicious things out of rotten spoils. For the record, 99% of those bananas will end up in the compost. I make banana bread once a year, if I am lucky. But, that historical fact, based on actual statistics didn’t stop me from adding another one to the pile this morning. Lanny’s MJ tapes made it to the new house (he thinks;) when we moved two years ago. Maybe he’ll watch them while eating 36 loaves of banana bread.



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p.s. I am starting a new column that will replace Two Mann, Two Sense, on the last Tuesday of every month. It will be a write-in advice column called “Dear Humann.” Get it?! The puns are endless with a last name like ours. Please consider submitting an anonymous letter for photography, business and/or life questions using this form;

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