“How would you rate this year for you?” my friend asked. “From a scale of one to five: one being the worst, five being the best.”
I scratched my chin and cleared my throat. Then I gave my answer.
“Five,” I replied.
He sat back in his seat. “Five? The best? Really?” He clutched his espresso and regarded me through the hot rising vapors.
I nodded. “I would give 2008 a five because this was a year of new starts and new challenges. Despite the poor economy and layoffs, there’s been a lot of new hope too. And I don’t just mean a new presidency. For me, personally, there’ve been a lot of positives.”
I picked up my mocha and took a sip. He echoed with a sip of espresso. For a brief moment, we savored our drinks and pondered the question. Then he put his cup down and waited for me to continue. I cleared my throat again.
“First of all, I started a new relationship. It wasn’t always easy, but it’s been going really well. I’m totally happy and excited about it. Heck, I kind of feel like the luckiest guy in the world to have met her. And it happened all because of chance. Or perhaps fate. That in itself could give 2008 a high score.”
He nodded. “True, you’ve been very lucky in the romance department.”
“Career-wise, starting a new business has been exciting as hell too. Frustrating as hell sometimes, but mostly exciting. I’ve made some mistakes, but they’re great lessons learned. I actually look forward to, and expect to make many mistakes. Each one is going to make us that much stronger, especially in this economy. While other people are scared off by such risks, we’re facing them head-on and still making a profit.”
“That’s fantastic! Not many people can do what you’re doing.”
“And don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m not struggling or scared at all. There are days when I wake up wondering if this is going to be sustainable in the long run. But that’s what I wanted to worry about when I quit my full-time job. I wanted the fear of having no steady paycheck to propel me forward. Having no cushion is a tremendous motivator for making immediate profits, let me tell you.”
He shook his head. “I’ll bet.”
“Investment-wise, not all of them have panned out. My portfolio has taken a dive, like most other people. But I still have a few hopeful investments out there. The market will swing back up again too. While there’s been lots of stress around my investments, overall, I’m pleased with my positions.”
“That’s very optimistic of you. A lot of people feel quite differently about that.”
I shrugged. “Yea, I know. Perhaps my rating for this year isn’t just due to the excitement of these new starts and challenges. It’s also due to my general outlook on life. I tend to be optimistic about a lot of things. For me, mistakes don’t get me down as much as others, because I see them as ways to strengthen myself. And where others see problems, I see opportunities. Ultimately, I think life is all about what you make of it. You can choose to be pessimistic about it, or optimistic about it. You can choose to be pushed around and react to the world, or push back and shape the world.” I stared at my mocha. “I’m beginning to sound full of myself, aren’t I?”
He smiled. “I think your view is refreshing. It’s a very hopeful view. In these dark days, it’s nice to see something with some light in their eyes.”
I quietly took a slow sip, savoring the sweet mocha on my tongue. “I’m not saying it’s easy to always stay positive. But once I push my mind into that direction, it’s really easy to continue with that attitude. It’s like a muscle; the more I think this way, the easier it is to see all the possibilities out there. The more I work it, the stronger it becomes. Hmmm, I’m not sure if that analogy totally works.”
He took another sip, then held his cup and paused for a moment. “You know what you should do? You should write about this.”
I smirked. “How do you know I wasn’t already going to?”
He chuckled. “You saw an opportunity for a story and you went for it. Very opportunistic of you.”
We laughed and savored the last few drops of our drinks. Then we put our cups down for a reflective moment. I cleared my throat. “So how would you rate this year?”