The Case for Optimism


This blog begins with a happy conspiracy of circumstances that led me to D.C. and, ultimately, through the kindness of others, to this wonderful room at the Hay-Adam’s Hotel. As an Australian, I knew little about the hotel until the First Family stayed there in the weeks before President Obama’s inauguration. To find myself in the room directly below theirs a few weeks later, and to look out the window at what is such an inspiring sight, left me grateful and more than a little awe-struck.

As I stood on the balcony and took in the view, ever mindful of the secret service eyes necessarily trained on every window with a clear line of sight to the White House, I double-checked my bathrobe and reflected on the significance of what had happened and what it promised for the country. As the entire nation staggers under the burden of a failing economy it’s almost impossible not to be consumed by fear and doubt. Yet, as with any great period of transition, the death rolls of the past also release potential that could otherwise never be imagined.

While this does little to ease the pain of transition, it does suggest that given a choice between holding on to the past in fear or opening up to the future with optimism, the latter is not only a happier state of mind but also expedient. It allows us to weather that transition more easily and ensures that we are open to the new opportunities that would otherwise remain closed. What lies on the other side of this global, economic transition will be revealed by those who characterize the end of the world as we know it as the beginning of what the world will become. And that mere predisposition towards openness allows us to remain relevant and receptive to where the world is headed rather than be a casualty of how things were always done.

As I polished off the last of my – more than likely – last white chocolate White House, and closed the door on that view for the final time, knowing full well I may never get a chance to set foot in such a room again, I was struck by how optimism and openness to change had transformed this symbol of authority into a symbol of possibility. That same previously unthinkable result is available to each of us if we too stay optimistic, believe in what we can achieve and commit to playing a role in creating the future we want for ourselves and others.

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