Ages ago, my dear uncle known as Bourbon John, taught me the difference between a pessimist and an optimist. The story he told still remains in my head. According to John:
A mother of twin boys was worried because they were so different from each other. She feared there was something wrong with both of them, so she took them to a psychiatrist to see if he could figure out what it was that made them so different. After all, they were twins.
The doctor examined each boy, gave them numerous expensive tests for several weeks before coming to this conclusion.
"Madam, you have one son who is an optimist while the other is a pessimist."
The woman didn't really know what that meant, but she begged the doctor to come up with a cure for both of them. "Please, doctor! Help my sons! Can you do anything for them?"
The doctor scratched his chin and thought for awhile, then abruptly nodded his head. "Yes, madam, I can think of a possible way to cure both boys." And a date was arranged for the next, and supposedly final, appointment.
He arranged two large rooms. The first, he had brought in all the wonderful things a boy could want--new toys, cake and ice cream, balloons, you name it, it was there. Into this, he put the pessimist child.
In the other room, he had a farmer lay down a carpet of horse manure, nothing else. He loaded the optimist into this room.
After two hours, he went back to the first room. It saddened him to find the child sitting on the floor, crying. "What's wrong? You had everything a boy could want in here. You should be happy!"
The boy wiped his snotty nose and replied, "The balloons all popped. The cake wasn't chocolate, the soda pop was flat, and all the toys broke too easily."
The doctor harrumphed and nodded sadly.
Going to the room full of manure, he opened the door and found the optimist child laughing and prancing around the room, searching everywhere. To him, the doctor said, "Child, what could you possibly be glad about? This room is dismal!"
The boy looked up from his search and said simply, "Well, doctor, with all this horse shit on the floor, I figured there had to be a pony in here somewhere."
And that, my friends, is the best definition of optimism and pessimism I've ever heard.
I pass this on to you at the start of the new year.
I hope 2018 is full of manure and you keep on looking for that pony!