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Today started with a bang: two back-to-back meetings over coffee, each of which was filled with possibilities for extending some of the projects I’ve been working on here. I left each meeting profoundly excited, and I don’t think it was just the caffeine.

I’m prone toward optimism, generally speaking, even when things are a little hard. But I worry at times that my optimism is little more than a defense against complete disintegration, because when it begins to slide, it can feel awfully hard to figure out how to move on. And of course the last two years have seriously challenged that optimism; at moments it’s been hard to stave off the certainty that everything is terrible, in fact, as the evidence seems determined to prove.

So the disappointments (multiple disappointments, in fact) of the last couple of weeks were proving harder to bounce back from than I wanted. How do you move forward when it seems like the paths forward are being closed off?

Today, I think I found a new path, with the help of two enthusiastic colleagues. I shouldn’t be surprised, I think, that the thing I most needed was connection with some folks as committed to our common project as I am. But it was pretty astonishing to recognize how much brighter my outlook became after those two meetings. Because I think that’s the deal with my optimism: it’s not that I assume that everything is or is going to be good, but that I see a means of making it better. It’s not a matter of looking up, but instead of looking forward.

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