In her recent book Bright-sided, Barbara Ehrenreich objects to the culture’s dogged attempt to change all lemons, no matter how sour, into the most saccharine of lemonades. She points with disgust to the cockeyed optimists who refused to allow her to see her cancer as the blow that it is, asking her, instead, to re -frame it as a blessing in disguise.
Maybe she would be less repelled if she could see optimism as the force of resilience that Jane Hirshfield writes about in her poem, “Optimism.” Successful negotiation of the sixties includes resilience.
More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam
returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous
tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another. A blind intelligence, true.
But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers,
mitochondria, figs–all this resinous, unretractable earth.