I am an optimist. And I am in good company: Winston Churchill, a favorite of my dads, said, I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else. My husband says my optimism is genetic. I think circumstances come into play. And parenting: Mine were determined to stress that life is based on hope, joy, trust, loyalty, daily happinesstherefore, the optimism.
So when I am bombarded with doom and gloom, Im the one who pooh-poohs it all. Its not denial. I think pessimism is a bummer. It is also kind of irresponsible, because its infectious. The way I see it, as long as I live a good life and do my best to impact what is in my control, I can keep on smiling, and maybe make others around me smile, too. As for the rest, I have no control over the governments decisions on whom to bail out and whom to jail; over banks decisions on who gets loans and who doesnt; over retailers decisions on what to discount and what to overcharge; over health insurers life-and-death determinations. I can only control my own sense of self and how it affects those around me.
I have opinions about how I should exercise that control. Not control as in, Do what I say, damn itI am right, but rather, Look, if our lives count, we have a responsibility to make our voices heard, sometimes in small ways, sometimes in big. That means a level of personal responsibility. In small ways, it means kindness, recognition, loyal behavior and respect. Always respect.
Exercising control can mean ignoring the naysayers bad behaviors (particularly difficult for me) and retaining a sustaining optimism. It means not being in such a hurry that I cant pull over to the side of the road and give cash to a homeless woman who may be disturbed but surely is hungry. It means paying attention to those around me: remembering that the woman who owns the cleaners I have been going to for 20 years has a daughter getting married this weekend. It means acknowledging the questions about the presidential candidates that the seven manicurists who had fled Vietnam asked me and how they considered it an honor to vote for the first time.
In large ways, exercising control means harnessing the optimism that emerged in the election. Voting, as we did earlier this month, is the most important action we can take. Sure, we win some, and we lose some. But we made our voices heardand in record numbers. It means participating in our collective life, whether buying something we need, following a passion, marching in support of something we believe in (pro anything that matters to you), visiting those we love or celebrating the holidays.
Which brings me to this issue. I hope and believe you will find optimism on every page. The optimism of Magic Johnson, who, after years of enormous NBA success, many rings and overcoming huge odds, propelled himself to bring economic prosperity to many underserved L.A. communities. The optimism of Baron Davis, who returned to the city he loves for the love of basketball, his community and his cherished grandma. The optimism of David Foster, whose enthusiasmand talentkeeps bringing us some of the best music ever made. The optimism of fashion and styleeven in this economy, we still want to look fantastic. And the optimism that comes with buying gifts for those you love. (Notice most of our presents are under $250.) I see gift giving as an acknowledgement that we have a future that is bright, that our friends and family will open the things we choose for them, smile and then, forever when they see that gift, think of the giver.
And so I come to the New Year, which seems to be so filled with uncertainty. We at LA wish you the most wonderful year, onetrite but truefull of success, health, smiles and, yes, optimism. I leave you with the words of my friend Josh Radnor: Is there a worry I can take from you? We hope this issue takes at least a little of your worry away. Lets replace it with hope.Happy New Year.