It drives my mother crazy that I did not inherit her optimism. When a rough spot appears on the horizon, she will confidently declare that “Everything happens for a reason,” and I’ll reply, “Or maybe we ascribe meaning to things in order to avoid the terrifying reality that the universe is a chaotic force outside our control or comprehension.”
She ascribes this to cynicism. I call it being pragmatic. I’m not, after all, some kind of Eyore, unable to smile and forever seeing doom and gloom wherever I look. I just can’t pretend NOT to see the infinite myriad fractures in our unpredictable existence. In fact, seeing the world this way helps me feel prepared for the rough spots—I’ve got a pocket full of “Just in case” with me at all times. (And yes, some people might call this generalize anxiety disorder, but whatever.)
The point is, when you’re a perennial pragmatist, good news feels… weird. It might even try to plant a seed of hope within your fortified heart, setting off a chain reaction that leads you to some very weird places.
That’s what happened to me last month when I found out I was a finalist for one of those “Big Deal!” awards we playwrights like to chase. I got excited! I felt hopeful! And then that hope completely disrupted my carefully balanced system.
I mean, yes, hope lifts your spirits and allows you to imagine adventure and glow and warm fuzzy feelings of the extraordinary sort! But hope also allows brings a heightened awareness of how precarious and fragile having hope actually is. To know that hope can be shattered? Leaving you right where you were, but now blisteringly aware of your own life’s newly unmet potential? YIKES!
I began to worry that I would not handle the (likely) disappointment very well. That I would sink into one of my “Who the f*** am I to think I have anything worth saying to the world?” slumps, and bum everyone out around me, and just generally be, like, really really sad, for a good long while. So then I asked, “Is this good news really just bad news in disguise? Is it actually better to have hope for a few weeks, than to not have had any at all?” Hope is a four letter word, after all…
So, yeah, I was a lot of fun, lol.
Anyway, I’m pretty sure the lack of an “Even better news!” email means that I’ve NOT gotten “The Big Thing” I was so tickled to be an actual contender for. And I’m… ok? I mean, I know I’ll be sad when the official TBNT email arrives, but the existential panic of “HOPE SO SCARY!” is gone. Which is a relief, because I was pretty sure I was going to be CRUSHED.
The whole experience just reminds me that getting close to a Big Deal Opportunity can be exciting and fun in and of itself. Who knows if I’ll ever be the playwright theatres are lining up to produce… at least I know someone is kicking my work up the ladder, right?
Spoken like a true pragmatist.