There is an amazingly broad spectrum of people in this world, all of them with deep feelings and emotions that are beautiful and rare. But all of us fit somewhere along a spectrum that begins with a group of people called optimists and ends with a group of people called pessimists.
The first are the ones who see the glass half full; the people who see life as a series of challenges and amazing experiences with the heartache and sadness a reminder of how amazing life can be, and how we must not take that for granted.
The other half see life as a series of disappointments and sadness, with the happy times only a short part of life, tricking a person to leave his or her guard down so the next problem will really sting worse than ever.
I guess I’m what you call an optimist.
While you in the latter category snicker and jeer, allow me to tell you I have no real reason to be an optimist. Over the past four years, my grandfather died of Alzheimer’s and my alcoholic father effectively chose the bottle over his son. I’ve had my heart broken, I’ve lost a best friend and I’ve had my face plastered over the evening news and made to look like a nasty idiot night after night for more than a month.
So if you think I am saying that I’m an optimist because I don’t understand pain, think again.
And yet, here I sit, dear reader, waxing on about how much of an optimist I am in my senior column. The column that is supposed to be a summation of everything I have accomplished while at Kent State University and an explanation of why I am the way I am — the perfect cherry to a hot fudge and caramel sundae four-and-a-half years in the making.
I’m writing about being an optimist because I feel oh-so-strongly that who we are and what defines us isn’t just the books we write or the jobs we do or the people we marry. It’s just as much about what kind of impact we leave on one another.
I doubt that the Daily Kent Stater will have any problems living on without me working for them. Nor will Artemis magazine, which I edited this semester. All of my teachers will go on to teach other students and accomplish other achievements. Kent State will still be Kent State when I’m gone.
And yet, it has affected my life in ways I could have never imagined. This school was my fourth choice when I was a senior in high school, and I walked into it with few expectations. Now, I cannot see my life going in any other direction.
I like to think that maybe, just maybe, somewhere along the way I’ve had the chance to make a positive difference in another person’s life here, or maybe a handful of persons, or a bunch. I try to go into every day wanting to put that good energy and optimism back into the world and make other people smile despite themselves. And sometimes I do. At least I hope so, because I know that so many people here have had such a positive impact on my life.
Earlier I listed reasons why I shouldn’t be an optimist, and I was thinking of closing my column with a list of reasons I am, but that would be atrociously boring, and I can boil the reasons down quite a bit to a simple thank you to everyone who has impacted my life in ways both major and minor, because you have helped define who I am and what I am capable of, and I would not be the same person without you.
It’s because of you, I’m happy to say, that Bob Taylor rocks.
Bob Taylor is a graduating newspaper journalism major and was this semester’s all editor. He will spend six months promoting his novel, Adrift, then attend grad school. Contact him at [email protected]