Saturday, August 2, 2014

Optimism and Pessimism

In life one needs doses of optimism to stay hopeful and positive thinking. Unlike pessimists, optimists choose to see the glass as half full rather than half empty. Optimism helps us to interpret situations in the best possible light. Perhaps optimism plus a small dose of realism coupled with a dash of pessimism to know that failure can happen are probably the recipes for us to stay resilient through life.

I have often thought that I am an optimistic person until I did some optimism quiz  from some website sometime ago. I came to conclude that the pessimism trait must have  unsuspectingly crept up on me after having  stayed in the legal profession a tad too long. Unfulfilled dreams are quite a few, perhaps it is time for me  to seriously think about how to go about achieving them.

Celebrities make it seem like easy to reinvent oneself. I guess if you have already built a name for yourself, it is probably less daunting to move on to a new line of career that you want to venture into but even fame cannot guarantee success in your new venture. I am never comfortable with building a personal brand through Linkedin nor Skillpage as I find my professional life  ordinary though it is definitely in my interest to build myself a brand in my profession. Writing is what I care about though it has taken me a long while to let friends and acquaintances know that writing is my passion.

Writing helps me to articulate my thoughts and its creative process can be therapeutic. I read a great deal partly because I love to read. Reading definitely helps me to write better. I am eager to translate my thoughts into written words and I  like to tell stories. At night I write even when my mind is terribly exhausted. I make a coffee and I make Chinese tea with the hope that all these drinks will help me stay awake. I get excited in anticipation of watching some films and attending tennis matches at grand slams ( so far I have only been to the Australian Open ) but I feel far more excited just browsing around and finding books that are promising reads. I find that  life can be absurd and yet it is full of surprises that are not necessarily bad. I find the idiosyncrasies of  different groups of  people interesting and the ironies of life fascinating. I am constantly amazed how these published writers can capture the intricacies of life and make their characters credibly complex. 

The 100 Year- Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is an entertaining read. The Swedish author,Jonas Jonasson  is very clever in weaving a story with a backdrop that spins across several geographical locations around the world and also it takes you on a journey through some major historical events  of the twentieth century. These are some of the interesting facts about the protagonist, Allan Karlsson.

'Allan Emmanuel Karlsson was born on May 2 ,1905. The day before, his mother had marched on the May Day procession in Flen and demonstrated on behalf of women’s suffrage, an eight-hour working day, and other utopian demands.'

Allan’s father was of both a considerate and an angry nature. He was considerate with his family but he was  angry with society in general and one day he lost his job on the railways after punching a passenger who happened to announce that he was on his way to Stockholm with thousands of others to visit the King in the royal palace. Allan’s father left the country and emigrated to Russia where he started to waver in his belief in the blessings of socialism.

Allan was left to fend for himself at the young age of fifteen when his mother died by which time his dad had already been killed in Russia. At age thirteen, Allan was already accomplished in making explosions by mixing chemical ingredients and he continued to develop new formulas for making dynamites in his own company. He lived an isolated life.

'But what finally formed young Allan’s philosophy of life were his mother’s words when they received the news of his father’s death. It took a while before the message seeped into his soul, but once there, it was there forever:

Things are what they are, and whatever will be will be.

That meant, among other things, that you didn’t make a fuss, especially when there was good reasons to do so, for example, when they heard the news about his father’s death. ……………

Allan Karlsson didn’t ask much of life. He just wanted a bed, lots of food, something to do , and now and then a glass of vodka. If these requirements were met, he could stand most things.'

When Allan is a few months shy of a hundred years old, he ends up in a nursing home where he has to abide by the mile-long list of rules and regulation including no smoking and no drinking. “Alcohol kills” is how Alice, the  Director of Malmk√∂ping’s  Old Folks’ Home has justified the “no alcohol”  rule. As it happens, despites his complaining knees and body aches and pains, Allan decides to escape just when the staff at the Old Folks’ home has started to prepare for his 100th birthday. He climbs out the window and embarks on a hilarious roller coaster journey where he meets eccentric characters and has the most unexpected windfall when a young man with long greasy hair and scraggly beard and a jean jacket asks him to mind his big, grey suitcase on wheels when the latter goes to the restroom to relieve himself . The uncouth young man does not seem to hear that Allan has a bus to catch and thus when the bus pulls up, Allan says yes to life and drags along the suitcase which he later discovers that it contains 50 million crowns drug money. Allan  becomes the target for the gangsters who call themselves “ Never Again” and also the  prime suspect for murder after some of  these gangsters are found dead.

While he is at the wrong place at the wrong time, Allan  seems to get lucky all the time and somehow things  work out for him. Allan is a larger than life character whose optimism definitely pays off even in his ripe old age. The story is very funny indeed. 

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