The Brutal Onslaught of Despair

I tend to be an optimistic person. I have been oft criticized for this fact. When times are hard, I find it easy to see the bright side of things and to look forward, putting things in their proper perspective. Yet, while this does seem to come naturally to me, and I am clearly a minority, my positive outlook is challenged and shaken no less often than anyone else.

I was at work the other day, following much of my usual routine consisting of browsing lots of news headlines and corresponding with friends and colleagues. It was a rather slow day, and I had little to keep me busy and tear me from the depressing daily reports filled with tales of tragedy and woe. The rain was coming down steadily outside and we seemed to be in the midst of a depression epidemic, as everyone I encountered had a sullen, hopeless expression on their faces and grim attitudes to match. Even I found it difficult to maintain my optimism in the face of such negativity. However, in spite of all this opposition, I continued to persevere and remain stalwart in my happiness.

I must fully admit at this time that those around me who choose to persist in their grouchiness are not entirely to blame. I will not argue with their claims that times have never been harder, that the future never looked quite so dark or that there seems to be little hope and purpose in even trying when just getting by takes all that you have. This is the message, the trumpeted report, I received in constant salvos of gloom throughout the day. Close friends spoke of their hopeless quests for employment and others of the overbearing weight of countless debts and bills. I read a report from “Forbes” that listed Jackson, Michigan as the worst small city in the nation for jobs.

After awhile, these things began to weigh more and more heavily on my mind. I began to ponder the future myself and question whether it really was as bright as I had so firmly upheld. My fiance and I have discussed very seriously whether this was the right place for us to settle and raise a family. We have always felt very strongly that it was and neither of us have felt any inclination to explore anything outside of this county. But reason, it seemed, was pointing somewhere else.

As much as I resisted this not-so-subtle nudge of fate, I felt responsibility compel me to at least consider the future in a more serious manner. I began to question my motives for everything and imagine every possibility. I thought long and hard about what was best for my family-to-be and tried to ignore my own desires and dreams. It was with these heavy thoughts on my mind that I left the library and began walking through the dreary, sprinkling cold to my car. The picture outside was indeed dismal. Weather aside, there was little good to be seen. A lone bum in tattered clothes stumbled across the parking lot, muttering to himself. I could see someone bundled tightly in a thin rain coat riding his bike down the cracked, puddle ridden sidewalk. Rusty, clunkers filled the parking lot and I could just discern the sound of a siren wail in the distance. Yet somehow, in the midst of all this gloom, I smiled. I cannot really say why, but I smiled. Something deep inside told me that I was right where I belonged. That no matter what happened or how dark things became, everything would be just fine. Even if things were bad, worse than anywhere else, I could make it through. Ashley and I could make it.
I held my head high and proceeded to walk proudly across the street towards my own rusty clunker, having accepted fate’s challenge of making a life in the most challenging town in the country. Having overcome of my own will, the powerful urge to succumb to the wave of despair, I felt a renewed sense of joy as my jovial spirit returned in full force. It seemed to me that the sun began to shine again and, for a moment, everything was right.
It was at that moment that I happened to hear a loud, gruff voice shout “HEY!!”. I whirled around and, as I happened to be the only person present, looked up towards the caller. I saw a dark SUV cruising down Blackstone with a large, angry looking man protruding from the passenger window. He held up his right hand in an obscene gesture, scowled at me and shouted “F*** YOU!!”

2 thoughts on “The Brutal Onslaught of Despair

  1. Yeah. That sounds pretty typical for our town.

    I wish you well in your optimism. I for one am caught up in our workplace game of “What color are YOUR happy pills?” and I’m afraid that circ alone may run the gamut of those available. It seems we just can’t face the public of Jackson day after day without a little chemical help. Of course, having just finished month 7 of being the sole breadwinner for our family, foreclosure looming, doesn’t help.

    That’s why we need ya, Kyle, because your optimism is sometimes the only bright spot of the day. Thanks for that, man.

  2. I too consider myself an optimist and often wonder how so many people can get through life with such pessimistic attitudes.

    Sure things go wrong, but I always figure it could probably be worse. Life is too short to be unhappy all the time.

    Hang in there, and keep smiling.

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