525. Pollyanna

I like Walt Disney Productions’ film “Pollyanna.” For a long time, I thought I liked it because Hayley Mills was so appealing, or because I was so naive. I thought that I’d become a little more cynical when I graduated from the School of Hard Knocks, and I’d become disenchanted with the “glad game” Pollyanna played – trying to think of something to be glad about, no matter how dismal things seemed. I thought growing up would set me straight.
But I haven’t become disenchanted yet. Not because I’m naive; I’ve learned a lot about how dismal life can be. Not being able to walk, sing, play the piano, eat chocolate, or do lots of other things I enjoy could easily get depressing for me. In fact, there were three years when I was actually depressed – enough for a psychopharmacologist to try prescribing lithium, tricyclics, and then prozac. I realize, in retrospect, that doctors are often too quick to prescribe medications –
that it’s far from a last resort – but it’s significant that I got the prescriptions filled, and took the medications.
But the “glad game” works for me. For me, it’s much more effective than lithium, tricyclics, or prozac. And I’ve decided that I’m not naive. If I didn’t have multiple sclerosis, I couldn’t have retired early and spent the rest of my life as a volunteer. I like volunteering as a teacher much more than I liked doing what I had to do to get paid as one. As for music, when I used to perform my own songs, I didn’t listen as well to other people who did them. The recent concert of my songs made me feel one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt. And as for chocolatelessness, well, I’m still working on a reason to be glad about that. I guess I’ll try my awful new dietary restrictions for a year, and if they don’t have dramatic effects, I’ll go back to chocolate and other goodies. Meanwhile, it doesn’t help much to think, well, gee, I can still have rice and beans. I’m optimistic, but I’m still in touch with “reality.”
Pollyanna was a young activist. She worked cleverly to mobilize the people in her town and make improvements. For her, for me, and probably for many of you, it’s easier to do the important work there is to be done if we believe that we’ve got a pretty good chance of success. The facts – what cynical minds sometimes call “reality” – may seem to contradict that belief. And we are often accused of not facing “reality.” But I disagree. I think hope, though sometimes dancing in the street where everyone can see it, is sometimes hiding, only noticed by those who are perceptive enough to see it. Pollyanna and the rest of us “glad game” players find that we can live more fully and accomplish more if we notice where hope is hiding.

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