Tuesday, 14 January 2014


I have an inchoate feeling of a corner being turned, of a new beginning, of possibilities opening up. I cannot quite pin it down but I feel it moving in me like an energy.

I spoke to someone today who is very young, and very wise. She spoke of having her perspective changed, and learning to see the positive instead of the negative. Her glass used to be half empty; now it is half full.

I think that this is a conscious choice. People have a tendency to see their characters as fixed. I am stubborn, they say, or optimistic, or sceptical, or kind. There is a temptation to take one label and slap it on and be done with it.

I think that most people are many things, all at the same time. I think also that character traits are not carved in stone. One can choose. Choices are important. Habits of mind can be changed. New neuronal pathways can be built, since it turns out the brain is much more plastic than was previously thought.

My glass too tends to be half full. I generally choose to see the best. Sometimes I feel slightly embarrassed by this, as if it were proof that I am naive or unsophisticated. The clever people are often cynics, after all. I am reading one clever person now, who serves up his cynicism about the human race in a brilliant and funny way. It is horribly persuasive. He has any number of proofs. My hello clouds, hello sky self wants to say: no, no, stop, wait, LOOK THERE IS THE SUN COMING OUT.

Is the choice, and I insist it is a choice, to see the best wilful folly, or a generally good thing? I can’t decide. I like digging for the good stuff, like a hound snuffling for truffles. When I find it, I feel a sense of joy and triumph and vindication. Silver linings glimmer about me.

Today, a man arrived at HorseBack who, on his last tour, was shot through the head. He comes to us quite a lot, and I like him very much, and am always glad to see him back. Getting shot in the head could shake one’s faith in life. It’s a bloody awful thing to happen. He could complain about his ghastly fate and the unfairness of things. (Why me? Why my damn head?) Instead, he chooses to see himself as lucky. He could have died. He should have died, really, all the medical people said so. Not many people survive a bullet to the brain. But he did survive, and he chooses not to complain, but to celebrate the fact that he is still here.

That’s what I mean by seeing the best in things. That’s my finest example, my daily reminder, right up there with What Would AP Do? It is, I think, a good choice. I put it in my heart and carry it with me like an amulet. The best is there, I think, even if sometimes I have to squint very hard to see it. It is worth looking for.


No pictures today; the weather is too awful. Just the two Beloveds, from lighter days:

14 Jan 1

14 Jan 2

How can one not look for the best in things, when one has those two beautiful creatures to gaze on every day? That’s crazy, wild, impossible luck, right there.


  1. I absolutely believe it's a choice. I used to call myself a pessimist, a negative Nancy. And I was. But I didn't realize that I could decide to be something else. It was a beautiful thing to realize that I could. I now proudly - not at all self-consciously - call myself an optimist, a person that continues to search for the beauty in life.

  2. I changed my world view for the better when I learnt to compare down rather than up. Quizzes on th'interweb that enable the person to see just where they sit on the global wealth scale is a good one for that, and having a daughter who was a legacy fundraising manger for Oxfam (until she was made redundant two years ago) was very good at keeping me focused on it. She is now the fundraising manager for a disabled children's charity. Again, as my mother would have said "it's important to know when we are well off". My daughter's health has only ever given me fleeting anxiety as she worked her way through common childhood ailments. I am a very fortunate woman.

  3. I try to stay grateful for the glass, at the very least :)

  4. @ makemeadiva: That was brilliant. Yes.


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