All That Glitters

Not all that glitters is gold. I’d get excited over something my mother considered too good to be true, and out of her mouth, would tumble this favorite warning. As a child, I felt she was overreacting; the world was a good place, wasn’t it? My father, a former merchant seaman, also had his take on his son’s overactive optimism. To him, I was “heading for a fall.”
Having lived through the nation’s Great Depression, they believed optimism needed to be alloyed with pragmatism. The place for prayer was separate from hard work- or in the words of another aphorism, “In God we trust, all others pay cash.”
The boiling cauldron awaited those who ignored these bits of wisdom – my arguments could not allay their years of experience. New York City may have been a cosmopolitan place to live, but it had traps laid out for the unwary.
Not so visible was a deep streak of optimism that ran through my parent’s thoughts and behaviors. You could improve your lot through education and hard work. It was a challenging game, but you could play the odds successfully.
So, I came to adulthood with a mixture of optimism and pragmatic pessimism. Like my parents, I tend to express one, the pessimism, verbally while carefully exercising the optimism through my actions. It’s worked out.

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