A Handful of Optimism Essay

A Handful of Optimism Essay

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A Handful of Optimism


Despite race, religion, sex, or age the world can be divided into two different groups. Those who see the glass as being half full and those who see the glass as being half empty. In other words, being either that of an optimist or a pessimist. Though a simple question, often times people find it difficult to answer. Just when one thinks they have decided that they are one or the other, they come across a song, poem, or an experience that makes them reevaluate the mind frame from that which they have normally embraced. T. S. Eliot’s famous quote from The Waste Land, "I can show you fear in a handful of dust," is one that has been the trigger, for many, in this self-evaluation process (1.30)

Quite often, people do not participate or embrace this process of self-evaluation. Yet, it is these people who throw around phrases like ‘carpe diem’ and ‘don’t put off tomorrow, what you can do today’ when they are doing just the opposite. In the mind frame of a pessimist, one gets so wrapped up in the fact that they might die, that they miss out on living. The bottom line is that death is inevitable. A topic that Eliot discusses when referring to Phlebas’s death by water:

"Gentile or Jew

O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,

Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you" (4.319-321).

In short Eliot was trying to say that one needs to learn from those who have gone on before them, and know they too will take a similar journey in life and death. It is this knowledge that is probably the driving force of the optimist. They know that they are going to die and choose to make the most out of their life. Though most people have at one point or another have had a fear of dying and been p...


... middle of paper ...


...if one spends their whole life being jealous of others, then they will have lost the opportunity to live their own life. So, as the Beatles once said "Let it be." Maddy provides an example of this when Ade turns out to be the successful one while Santigie fails his exams and is envious of Ade. Whether it be in school, with friends, or in sports, it matters not what exams one passes in life. The truth is that one does not linger in the past or anticipate the future, but rather one lives in the present and accepts life as it comes for the good and the bad with a handful of optimism.

Works Consulted

Eliot, T. S. The Waste Land, Prufock, and Other Poems. New York: Dover, 1998.

Life Application Study Bible. Trans. New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Maddy, Yulisa Amadu. No Past, No Present, No Future. 1973. , Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann-Reed, 1996.

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