The BBC posted a link that I followed earlier in the week explaining "tragic optimism," a phrase first coined by Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl. It means "there is space to experience both the good and the bad, and that we can grow from each." Embracing tragic optimism, we can acknowledge the pain and suffering in the world and in our own lives but move forward regardless with a firm grip on hope.
The writer positioned tragic optimism in opposition to what she termed "toxic positivity," an attitude that suppresses negative emotions or - worse - labels them as weaknesses. After two years of significant societal change and personal hardships, suppressing feelings of anger or sorrow seems like a short road to emotional turmoil.
Even as I recognize blessings of good health and resilient children, food and shelter and comfort of friends and family, I've struggled this week to support William moving toward an ACL surgery and finals, to read the headlines in the morning, to help buoy Daniel over the results of some poor choices. I'm exhausted and certainly not feeling particularly lucky, so I'm also a tiny bit gloomy over getting a crown at the dentist today (see previous post).
On this sunny spring day, when we need rain but will embrace the sunlight anyway, I plan to wrap my arms around some tragic optimism, finding meaning in life's setbacks and sorrows and maintaining a firm grip on that slippery eel called hope.