I’ve always looked at things in a glass-half-full kind of way. That is to say I’m always looking for the silver lining in the darkest cloud. I sit patiently during a heavy rain waiting for the rainbow to appear after it stops. I expect that any moment now someone with a pitcher of water, soda or occasionally beer will stop by to fill my glass the rest of the way.
Sure, quite often there is no silver lining or rainbow, and I often end up with an empty glass. But there was that period of time where I had hope, which is all that really matters. Such is the blessing, and occasional curse, that comes with being an eternal optimist.
I’ve always tried to look on the bright side of things and discovered at an early age that the power of positive thinking can be a wonderful thing. When I was 5 years old, I sat on the living room floor in the afternoon watching my favorite cartoon, “Three Stooges” program hosted by Sally Starr, a middle-aged woman dressed as a cowboy wearing a tin star on her blouse. I silently wished I would meet her but never told anyone about it. One day my Aunt Freda took me to the big city of Philadelphia to shop for school clothes… and to meet my hero, Sally Starr. Thinking back, that may have been the birth of my optimism.
From that moment on I realized anything was possible. I entered a spelling bee in second grade because I figured if I knew how to spell “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” I could spell anything; in front of the entire school I spelled a much simpler word to win the contest. I learned to play golf at the age of 12 and dreamed of making a hole-in-one; less than five years later my dream came true. I asked the prettiest girl in my senior class in high school out on a date; in June we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. I decided to enter a 135-mile foot race across Death Valley after seeing the race on television and, despite the prettiest girl in my senior class telling me “absolutely not,” I knew that one day I would cross the race’s finish line on Mount Whitney; two years later I finished the race in sixth place in a field of the finest long-distance runners in the world.
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had my fair share of disappointments. I don’t always find the silver lining or get to see a rainbow. But as every eternal optimist knows, there’s always the next time.
I say all this to explain why I pick up every single coin on the sidewalk I come across. I started doing it eight years ago when my grandson was born. As you probably already guessed, the money is going toward his college education. Whether he one day becomes a veterinarian, a designer of electronic games or the 50th president of the United States is not the issue, but rather that he does something he’ll enjoy doing.
And in the event my grandson decides to attend medical school and become a doctor, I know in my heart that one of those scratched pennies I bent over to pick up off an old country road while running in the rain is the one that will pay off his education. And in time—who knows? -- It could turn out to be the penny that cures cancer.
If it does, well wouldn’t that be just supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?
(Scott Ludwig is a writer living in Senoia.)