Pessimism and Optimism—AND MAGNOLIAS

Did you know that Gorse is used in flower therapy for pessimism, defeatism and the feeling ‘oh what’s the use!’ 

That is me and my husband! I always look at the brighter side of life, people, situations and events. For him it is a deep disappointment about the state of affairs as his standards are way too high.

I always try to make excuses for people’s behaviour. I pray to the Sun God everyday and my view is always optimistic. Even when someone is terminally ill, I think it is better for that person to go—an end to suffering, pain and ‘ill’ treatment…from family, caregivers and medical professionals. I am not pessimistic about these people’s behaviour. I think everbody comes to a situation with a background of experiences, impressions and beliefs. So a patient is not someone who can continually expect a reservoir of kindness and excellent care without a frown or deprecation.

For me the flowers bloom to give beauty—I dislike plucking them from the plants. Yet, there is a strong movement to change moods with flower essences. “The action of the flower essences raises the vibration of the being. They cure by flooding the body with beautiful vibrations of the highest nature – in whose presence there is the opportunity for disease to melt away like snow in sunshine – EDWARD BACH Bach flower therapy treats the “negative feelings” like anger, fear guilt, inferiority complex, lack of confidence, negative expectancy, envy, jealousy etc. by flooding the consciousness with positive feelings. In Bach flower therapy, “disturbed” feelings, moods, attitudes are taken as base for the selection of medicine. Bach found these “imbalances” in the personality as the “core element of disease”. Bach flower therapy is all about correcting these imbalances.

I think that organic or commercially viable foodstuffs—I am happy that I get a great choice to eat, every meal, every day. I relish food and am not absolutely sticky about how it is prepared, by whom and what goes into it.

For me clothes and shoes have to be comfortable. I couldn’t care less (not pessimistically I assure you) if what I wear is not the latest fashion. As long as it suits me and I am happy in it, that is all that I care about.

I am not a pessimist. We have an eminent lawyer friend whose  refrain is “This country (India will never be a good nation”. His belief is backed by a lot of his own family heritage and background, his fights about property with his siblings (their partners actually), the cases that come to him, the judiciary and legal profession and its inequities and maybe …..his bachelor status throughout his life..he is 80+ now. He is one of the hardcore pessimists I have encountered in life—in fact he defines the term for me.

Optimists are plenty—both foolish and those rooted in reality. My family is full of these characters and they make life interesting. An uncle by marriage of ours was a great guy. He was a stenographer and had 8 children. His family depended on his earnings as did a clutch full of his siblings. We could see him walk up the lane every evening after office hours and on Sundays after his outings. The first week of the month if he came walking jauntily with a bearer at the back with a basket full of goodies on his head, that was the signal that he was in a great mood. If he walked in with a slouch and a hanky sticking out of his trouser pockets (containing a handful of peanuts for us kids) the signal was that it had been a bad day—at the races! My aunt had the worst nightmare when that happened as she had to push a month with no income! Two sides—optimism—pessimism. The optimism was always available on month the horses called out like sirens on the rock in Ulysses life!! My aunt too was optimistic that he would win until she saw his stroll on the lane leading to her house…then it could be dashed in a second for it was peanuts time.

The institution of marriage is built on optimism or hope. In many cases it manages to retain its mood in spite of ups and downs as life brings the couple closer. In some cases the marriage breaks up as pessimism takes over with the feeling… “ I just can’t make it in this relationship:….for whatever reason.

So! Optimism or pessimism—life deals out the deck of cards—and if it is poker it is a deadpan face. If it is rummy then it can be excitement. If the game is bridge it varies day to day. The shuffle of the cards is on again and again, isn’t it?

I just got thsi story:

Each Day is a gift from God, what you do with it is your gift to God. 
I was getting ready for my daughter June’s wedding which was taking place in a church about forty miles away, and felt loaded with responsibilities as I watched my budget dwindle…..
So many details, so many bills, and so little time.

My son Jack said he would walk his younger sister down the aisle, taking the place of his dad who had died a few years before.

He teased Patsy, saying he’d wanted to give her away since she was about three years old!

To save money, I gathered blossoms from several friends who had large magnolia trees. Their luscious, creamy-white blooms and slick green leaves would make beautiful arrangements against the rich dark wood inside the church.

The big day arrived – the busiest day of my life – and while her bridesmaids helped Patsy to dress, her fiance Tim walked with me to the sanctuary to do a final check.

When we opened the door and felt a rush of hot air, I almost
fainted; and then I saw them – all the beautiful white flowers were black. Funeral black. An electrical storm during the night had knocked out the air conditioning system, and on that hot summer day, the flowers had wilted and died.

I panicked, knowing I didn’t have time to drive back to our hometown, gather more flowers, and return in time for the wedding and I certainly didn’t have extra money to buy a new set from the florist in town.

Tim turned to me. ‘Edna, can you get more flowers? I’ll throw away these dead ones and put fresh flowers in these arrangements.’
I mumbled, ‘Sure,’ as he be-bopped down the hall to put on his cuff links.

Alone in the large sanctuary, I looked up at the dark wooden beams in the arched ceiling. ‘Lord,’ I prayed, ‘please help me. I don’t know anyone in this town. Help me find someone willing to give me flowers – in a hurry!’

I scurried out praying for the blessing of white magnolias.

As I left the church, I saw magnolia trees in the distance. I approached a house…. no dog in sight….. knocked on the door and an older man answered.
So far so good. No shotgun. When I stated my plea the man beamed….’I’d be happy to!’

He climbed a stepladder and cut large boughs and handed them down to me. Minutes later, as I lifted the last armload into my car trunk, I said, ‘Sir, you’ve made the mother of a bride happy today.’

No, Ma’am,’ he said. ‘You don’t understand what’s happening here.’

‘What?’ I asked.

‘You see, my wife of sixty-seven years died on Monday. On Tuesday I
received friends at the funeral home, and on Wednesday….. He paused. I saw tears welling up in his eyes. ‘On Wednesday I buried her.’ He looked away. ‘On Thursday most of my out-of-town relatives went back home, and on Friday – yesterday – my children left.’

I nodded.

‘This morning,’ he continued, ‘I was sitting in my den crying out loud. I miss her so much. For the last sixteen years, as her health got worse, she needed me. But now nobody needs me. This morning I cried, ‘Who needs an eighty-six-year-old worn-out man?

Nobody!’ I began to cry louder. ‘Nobody needs me!’

About that time, you knocked, and said, ‘Sir, I need you.’

I stood with my mouth open. He asked, ‘Are you an angel? I assured him I was no angel.

He smiled. ‘Do you know what I was thinking when I handed you those magnolias?’


‘I decided I’m needed. My flowers are needed. Why, I might have a flower ministry! I could give them to everyone! Some caskets at the funeral home have no flowers.. People need flowers at times like that and I have lots of them. They’re all over the backyard! I can give them to hospitals, churches, all sorts of places. You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to serve
the Lord until the day He calls me home!’

I drove back to the church, filled with wonder. On Patsy’s wedding day, if anyone had asked me to encourage someone who was hurting, I would have said, ‘Forget it! It’s my only daughter’s wedding, for goodness’ sake! There is no way I can minister to anyone today.’

But God found a way. Through dead flowers. ‘Life is not the way it’s
supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.’

Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Anu, Ashok, Conrad, DeliriousGaelikaa,  GrannymarMagpie11,  Paul, Maria the Silver Fox, Rummuser , Will Knott, and Shackman write on the same topic with me. Please do visit the linked blogs to get  different flavours of the same topic.

About padmum

You could call me Dame Quixote! I tilt at windmills. I have an opinion on most matters. What I don't have, my husband Raju has in plenty. Writer and story teller, columnist and contributer of articles, blogs, poems, travelogues and essays to Chennai newspapers, national magazines and websites, I review and edit books for publishers and have specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. My other major interest used to be acting on Tamil and English stage, Indian cinema and TV. I am a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff and write about India's heritage, culture and traditions. I am interested in Vedanta nowadays. I am now an Armchair traveller/opinionator/busybody!
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6 Responses to Pessimism and Optimism—AND MAGNOLIAS

  1. Delirious says:

    The magnolia story is wonderful!

    I’m like you, my first priority with clothing and shoes is COMFORT! 🙂


  2. grannymar says:

    I might sound like an echo of Delores, nut that story was terrific. I think we all need to find our own style and with it comfort in our clothes and footwear. Top fashion is not always the road to comfort.


  3. rummuser says:

    Great post Padmum. It took me back to Matunga all over again.


  4. theoldfossil says:

    I like this! And one of the things I like about it is people meeting the challenges of life being enough. No bad guys needed, for this story has none.


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