The worldly hope men set their hearts upon
Turns ashes-or it prospers; and anon,
Like snow upon the desert's dusty face,
Lighting a little hour or two-was gone.
- Quatrain XVII Omar Khayyam
Now I'm not telling you what to be. I hate that, don't you? But I can't help but recommend a way of life--a philosophy that works for me. Maybe you already are a pessimist, so you know how it can set your feet on the right path of life and never let you down.
Am I being sarcastic? Not for a minute. It's just that optimism is not in order. Not for the long term. I hope, if you are mature that you are set for the long term. Short range optimism can be such a deadly trap. Ask anyone who has married the wrong person, believing that they can change.
I think of people simply not equipped to fulfill their ambitions. I had a friend who loved to play the piano. It came naturally to her. She had high hopes until a teacher told her, "Don't ever consider becoming a professional." Musical people know. They have an ear for real talent, and can be brutally frank.
The Hollywood version of this story is that this lady ignored the negative advice and went on to become a great pianist. But this is real life. The lady continued to play. I like to hear her play. But she became a realist-pessimist and abandoned her career hopes.
End of story? Not at all. What she did was to counsel people over the phone as part of a rape crisis ministry, and she is very skilled at it. Instead of her fingers making beautiful music, she uses her voice--which really is a pleasure to hear--to give sound counsel to people who are in deep trouble. Pessimism triumphs again!
Let's apply this to a much wider scale, let's say to even the whole world. Those who have never read the book of Revelation, for example, picture their efforts to reform" the world (and maybe you) as the answer to the great evils of the present system. Have you ever seen a disillusioned optimist? The dashing of such vain hopes can be a sad thing to behold.
When I finally caught on, this world is not it, I started to have real hope. In the best of situations, say a happy marriage, it will end in death. I want more, a lot more. Only eternity and seeing the face of God will satisfy me. It is promised to us all.
Pessimism is a world view, and limited to this present earth. When it comes to what lies beyond I am a complete optimist.