Mister Pessimism

There was an old grumpy man whose name was Pessimism. He was always complaining and finding fault in everything and everyone. Nothing was to his liking. He had forgotten how to laugh or shed tears. He spent his life sitting on his doorstep disparaging the whole lot. Since he did not know how to live, he did not know how to die either – so he was very very old.

Given that he looked so aged, people would come and ask his advice.

The young would enquire what they had to do to attain and enjoy happiness in their lives. And he would answer sarcastically: “Joy? Joy? Fools invented joy.”

Parents would approach this elderly man and ask him how they could educate their children better, giving them long-lasting values. And he would reply cynically: “Kids? Children are vicious serpents. Don’t expect anything from them except noxious bites… and pain.”

Artists and poets would approach him expectantly and ask him what they could do to make the world a more beautiful place. And the elderly man’s reply would always be the same. He was so monotonous and cynical. “It would be better for you not to create anything, because the world is and will always remain hideous and ugly. Shut up.”

People who desired to sacrifice themselves for an ideal would go to him and ask him what they could do for an enhanced world. They would speak enthusiastically about their dreams but he would always stop them by these ruthless words, “Those who sacrifice themselves for others are crazy”.

But God takes care of everyone. He felt pity for this man and so he decided to free him from his bizarre attitude. Realizing that the reason of his gloominess was that this cranky old man never got a kiss from anyone, He called Jeremy, a four years old boy and told him: “Do you see that old man sitting on the door step? Go and give him a big kiss.”

The boy obeyed right away. He went, hugged hugely the old man and smacked on his wrinkled face a gigantic kiss.

The old man was stunned. He who was never surprised at anything, smiled at the world for the first time! Yes, he really smiled! His pessimism vanished.

Federico Fellini’s movie La Strada opened in 1954 and became a classic. In one unforgettable scene, a clown is talking to a young lady. She has grown weary of trying to love unlovable and unloving people, and she wants nothing to with them. As the conversation ends and the young lady turns to leave, the clown tells her, “But if you don’t love these people who will love them?”

When one is kissed by God, his life becomes a projection towards others. He feels a special thrust to help others and the more he gives himself, the more he is out of his pessimistic rut.

Let us finish with a precious gem. The desert fathers say that in life there are just two sorts of people. The first kind are the ones who do the will of God and the second kind are those who do their own will. And they add stylishly, that this second kind are always tired!


(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.