Meet the Muses: Optimism

In this second installment of Meet the Muses, I’m going to introduce you to optimism.

Optimism whispers to us what could be possible and compels us to take risks. They inspire the devotion of an ingenue and the conviction of a visionary. With optimism by our side, we have the audacity to trust the process and feel instilled with hope when our values and freedoms are taken for granted, or taken away. Optimism is never complacent or complicit, nor does optimism dismiss or fail to resist the real challenges of life. Optimism is resistance that creates.  `

In the next installment of Meet the Muses, I’ll introduce you to Joy.

Meet the Muses

I first heard the word muse when I was completely enchanted by the movie Xanadu as a five-year-old. In the movie, Olivia Newton John portrays a muse who inspires a painter to complete a record album cover. Aside from the great music (i.e. Magic by Olivia Newton John and I’m Alive by Electric Light Orchestra) and roller skating, there was something more to the movie for me–I felt intrigued by the idea of a muse, or a source of inspiration.

In Greek mythology, there are nine muses–the daughters of Mnemosine and Zeus who are goddesses of the arts and science and often portrayed as voluptuous women with exposed breasts and alluring smiles. When I created this blog, it was not to suggest that I was a muse in this vein. Rather, I wanted to play with the idea that we can inspire each other, and also be inspired by the non-human world. The intent of this blog is to be a source of inspiration which sparks many more ideas from you.

And so I’ve given some thought to what inspires me, and it seems fitting that I should explain that to you in depth as the basis for further conversation at the Activist’s Muse. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be describing each of the eight muses that I have identified as an important source of inspiration to me.

  • October 4, 2021 – Optimism
  • October 18, 2021 – Joy
  • November 11, 2021 – Transformation
  • November 15, 2021 – Integrity
  • November 29, 2021 – Wisdom
  • December 13, 2021 – Community
  • December 27, 2021 – Creativity
  • January 10, 2022 – Meaning

These words are what some people might call values. They are that, but so much more to me. A value is something that is pre-defined that we feel obliged to follow because of our faith, the law, or our moral compass. A muse is, instead, an open-ended source of inspiration and enrichment. I’ll explain who each of the muses are, how they inspire me, and how I tune into them in the weeks that follow.

Optimism and Realism: Allies or Antagonists?

If you read this blog, you might have noticed that I am an optimist. Someone very kindly called me a ‘beacon of hope’ recently. While many people have expressed appreciation for the work that I am doing through The Fruition Coalition, others have expressed concern that it is detached from reality.

Can optimism and realism be complementary rather than contradictory? I think they can. Without optimism, our efforts to change the real conditions of our lives lack vision. Without realism, our dreams for the future lack grounding. Both are necessary, and both are mutually reinforcing.

Criticism without Cynicism

As a social critic, I often respond or react to current events in nonconstructive ways. While I don’t shout at the TV or contemplate retribution, I do sometimes feel angry, hurt, overwhelmed, and disgusted. These feelings lead me to pick apart ideas, and the people who espouse them, in an effort to deconstruct and discredit. This perpetuates my negative feelings, and the cycle continues.

Other times, I open up my heart and my mind so that I can fully absorb and understand the event. I allow it to penetrate my psyche and infiltrate my intuition. Then I let it go, allowing it to float away and disintegrate. I create space for new ideas to emerge. I imagine what could be possible. Then I get off my meditation cushion sitting ass and do whatever I can to make my beautiful vision a reality.

We can critique our world in constructive, rather than cynical, ways. Emergent history can shift our conscience from pessimism to possibility. We can hope rather than hate, and love instead of languish.