08 July 2009

Two Optimists

I love how languages can express ways of thinking. I know two languages intimately and I've heard of others, so I know there's more than one way to think about a concept.

For example, English separates the concept of "being alone" into two distinctions: lonely and solitude. Lonely is the painful feeling of isolation, while solitude is the joyful state of feeling complete and in harmony. Spanish has only one word for "being alone"--soldedad--which means loneliness. In Spanish, soledad is forever negative, and for someone like Me who enjoys solitude, expressing it in Spanish would be akin to saying "I like being lonely" in English.

That just don't sound right, right?

I recently found out that another of My favorite words--optimism--has a dual nature in Japanese. On one hand, they say Rakutenteki to mean "hope that things will turn out well; a positive outlook," a similar definition to English. On the other hand, they also say Rakkanteki, meaning "facing challenges to give life meaning."

I was instantly taken by this dual nature of optimism in Japanese, grokking it fully. Life without challenges is Life without flavor, drab and dull. My oldest nephew once asked Me what My favorite games are, and when I replied he said "Why do You like difficult games so much?" and My answer was "They are the ones that challenge the most." Sometimes projects I undertake are far outside the realm of what others call "realistic" (namby-pamby dullards all), but they involve a whole lot of challenges that make Life (for Me) a lot more interesting.

I know for a fact I'm in a minority here. Most of the people I encounter are optimists in the "I hope I win the Lotto" mode, not in the "I have to get better to solve this" mode. To them, doing logic puzzles is akin to learning Sanskrit, reading anything other than gossip is like sawing their face in half and thinking to solve problems no one else sees yet is like baptizing a TV set in vinegar.

Sad. But then one can see how they are incapable of being true optimists, of embracing the energy of challenges and of rising to new heights to see farther and do more. That they are the majority is tragic. That I often feel as if I'm alone in this just means I feel...solitude.

The Jenius Has Spoken. 

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