The Disillusioned Optimist

I walk towards my laptop that sits patiently on the small writing desk that once belonged to my grandmother. Balancing a plate of freshly roasted zucchini in one hand and my Bible and journal in the other, I sit down at the desk and attempt to set the plate carefully on the small space to the right of my laptop. When the unthinkable happens. The edge of the dinner plate bumps into the plum colored picture frame where my bridesmaids and I are smiling happily at the camera. The picture frame begins to rock backwards bumping my nearly full glass of ice water. I sit there, paralyzed with fear of how this story will end. In slow motion, I watch the frame slide along the desk, I watch my glass of water tilt closer and closer to my laptop. I watch ice cold water sling itself across my keyboard and tumble into a small puddle on the floor. I may or may not have said something that can’t be heard in a G-rated movie. I ran for a towel, wiped down my key board and then did what anyone else would do. Pretend nothing had happened. If I don’t recognize that it’s wet, then it can’t be wet. Like a small child covering his eyes and chanting, “you can’t see me!”

This was Wednesday. On Thursday morning my computer seems to be fine. I am now at the church offices, working diligently when all of the sudden my computer screen goes black. I have to muster up the courage to call our IT department and confess what happened yesterday. Mr. IT is certain that I have shorted the computer and must wait weeks to determine whether or not it’s fixable. And when I hang up the phone, I cry. Not a hard, sobbing cry, just a steady stream of tears that alerts the whole office I’m either A) overly dramatic or B) extremely fond of my computer.

Probably both. Because ALL of the material I have written or taught in the past 5 years is on that computer. And no I haven’t backed it up, and no I didn’t set my computer immediately on rice, and no I didn’t power off the machine, or put a lid on my glass of water, or any of the things that responsible adults who own electronics do.

So I’m crying and laughing and praying and saying absurd things like, “this is the worst” and “I’m not gonna make it if my computer doesn’t.” And so my boss brings me a piece of chocolate.

“I’m on a cleanse,” I say. Because it’s sort of true.

“Don’t tell your husband,” he says. Because duh. If he doesn’t know, then it never happened.

This is the beginning of my disillusionment.

After work I go to the grocery store because you have to go grocery shopping when you’re on a cleanse and can’t eat the things that are staring at you from your pantry. As I reach for a cart (a buggy? I’m pretty sure I called it a buggy growing up) I think maybe this time my cart will be quiet. But guess what…it’s NOT! It never is. Like never. I think I have been cursed because I can never go to the grocery store and not pick out a cart with a janky wheel. It’s proven to be literally impossible for me. Even when I choose the double tiered small ones. Janky wheel. I think those janky wheels are designed for people who shop-lift because it announces your presence at EVERY point in the store. The wheel is clattering and clanking along while you’re choosing sweet potatoes. Then alerting the entire store that you’re headed to Dairy. Those wheels are squeaking and squealing, not allowing you to be discreet when you turn towards the chip aisle. And since the whole store probably knows that you’re on a “cleanse” the guilt causes you to turn around and pick out more veggies. It’s the worst. But at least this is the most annoying thing (after the whole computer thing) that I will experience today.

And so continues my disillusionment.

Once I get home, I’m in desperate need of breathing normally and releasing the tension in my lower back from the drama with the wheels at the grocery store. I determine that a few sun salutations will help me feel relaxed and limber. While I’m hanging out in a down-ward facing dog do you know what I see? DOG HAIR. Everywhere. We have semi-dark floors (praise the Lord!) so I don’t always notice it, but this dog sheds like it’s his job! I didn’t realize the whole shedding thing was going to be this big of a problem. When Finn was a puppy, he didn’t shed that much, so I genuinely believed that we would have a prized black Labrador that didn’t shed.

So I start vacuuming the living room, dining room, and kitchen and that shedding genius of an animal is following me. Following me! I vacuum an area that HE has made hairy and he walks right through it. I’m sure just leaving behind a few locks in his wake. I have now decided that constant shedding is way worse than janky wheels on a grocery store cart, but not as bad as ruining your laptop. It was clearly a rough Thursday.

Here’s the thing about being an optimist: things that shouldn’t upset you or frustrate you often do because you aren’t expecting them. Situations that go wrong feel harder to manage when you anticipate things will always work out. Optimism can seem awfully close to disillusionment. But I’ve decided it’s still okay. It’s okay to imagine things turning out the way you planned. It’s okay to anticipate a water-damaged computer to begin working again, or a grocery cart that will be silent, or a lab that won’t shed (that much). In a small way these things teach us to hope for the unexpected, to look for the good, and to see the glass as half-full. It just might be better next time if that glass has a lid.

So keep dreaming and believing and remaining optimistic because my computer was, in fact, salvageable and all of my documents recovered! That piece of chocolate sat on my desk for 2 days until it was eaten by a co-worker! And while I’m still working on the wheel thing, I’ve come to peace with the fact that the vacuum cleaner will be a permanent fixture in our living room. I mean he’s worth it, right?

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Author: Callie Clayton

I am a Jesus follower who deeply values honesty, friendship, and chocolate. I want this space to be a reminder that you are not alone! In both the messy and sweet parts of life, God has something to say to you. Let's seek his voice and his Truth because without that, nothing else matters!

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