The Adventures of Kidney Boy

A Journal About Living With End Stage Renal Disease. Dialysis. Transplants. Love. Family. Friends. The Unsung Donor. This is my life, from the end of a needle to the bottom of a pill bottle.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cynicism and Optimism: Joy

A lot of people who know me might describe me as a cynic.  It's true, I can be curmudgeonly and I have very strong opinions on many social matters and trends.  I guess it's just because I have such a passion for life and for living.  I've always been this way.  I can get cranky about a lot of things.  It's just my way.

But, I know I'm not a true cynic.  Behind most cynics, there's a cauldron of optimism that brews and it's that pile of hope that actually fuels our cynicism.  I know that my cauldron of optimism is pretty giant and it boils hot - it must, because I think that's what really kept me alive all these years as my health was failing.   I know there's good things despite all the bad that can happen, and you really need to try and grasp that when you can - and make a small difference in your own life and hopefully, the lives of those around you.

Doing a bit of light traveling this Summer made me think about it.  A few weeks after my Transplant, my wife and I got away to Lake George for a couple of days.  We went there for our honeymoon (as I was on dialysis, and we could travel there with the machine with little effort) and we went back the next year.  I'd planned to go for a couple days this year, but suddenly I was in the Hospital on a Saturday, getting a transplant and Monday was our anniversary! So when I was well enough, we got away for a couple days.  I enjoy the Lake and the Adirondacks, and I even love the Tourist-y kitsch that surrounds the town.  There's a lot of resorts who had their heydays in the 50's and 60's.  They still have that ole crazy Googie Architecture to them.... I just love it.  But my favorite part about the trip is driving home. We take Rt. 28 across the Mountains, through Blue Mountain Lake and down to Old Forge.

When I was a kid, my Mom and Dad would take me and my brothers camping in Old Forge in the summers.  I have so many fond memories, not of the Camp Sites, but of going to the Towns that surrounded the area.  It was the early 80's, so many of those great tourist shops, restaurants and other places that sprung up in the 50's and 60's were still there.  The place still looked the shining example of post-war America - before the Freeways, when the local routes were king, and driving the roads with your family on vacation was all part of the American Dream.  I guess, even as a kid, it reminded me of that optimism of post-war America in the 50's.... where we could do anything, and be anything if we worked hard enough.  Sure, some might say that we whitewash over a lot of bad about the era - in fact, that cauldron of maligned people is what exploded the social revolution and societal change in the 1960's.  So yeah, there was some not so great things about the time - but there was that great sense of optimism.  If we take anything from that era, it should be that - and everyone should be allowed a piece of that.  As much as I loved the social revolution and change of the 60's, it was just that which the birthed the cynicism and distrust that permeated the 70's and into the 80's.  People had lots of reasons for it - but in that, the cynicism was not tempered with the optimism.  So when I came into this world in the late 70's, growing up in the 80's - I felt that sting.  And as an odd child, it affected me.  So when I was taken to this place that suddenly reminded me of joy and optimism, well it just clicked with me.  Even if I had no clue why - some things in this Universe just stick with you, even if you're too "young" to comprehend why.

Driving down Rt. 28 still reminds me of that feeling of optimism today.  It cleanses my soul to ride that expanse of road.  Up and down mountains, past beautiful streams - past old billboards and roadside attractions of yesteryear, past beautiful lakes and Summer Getaways.  Past fisherman standing by the banks of creeks, long into the day when the sun starts to just set a little in the sky.  Past amusement parks and ramshackle camps.  Past the ghosts of my own childhood, and my hopes as a child.  When I was a child, I just wanted to grow up to be an Adult who could still love all of this stuff.  Well, I did that.  So if I feel like I never accomplished anything in life, I know I've accomplished something I wanted for myself for almost 30 years.  And it makes me feel good - it fills that cauldron of optimism again, and makes me able to face to world and hopefully fufill all the aspirations I have for myself now for the next 30 years.

So, yeah, I may be a little cynical from time to time.  But I'm really a dreamer.  I'm really a hopeful person.  And I, despite all the stuff that seems to piss me off, I am a lover of life.

~Steve

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