There are four plants on my desk, there’s one in the same room, and two in another. All of them grew to face the sun. All of them bow towards the window. This tendency of plants bending towards light always excites me. If one read further about this, they’d learn of auxin, which tends to concentrate more towards the parts where the sun fails to reach. Of course, reasonable explanations for most things exist. It was one of the true joys of living in a world where information was plenty and available. It makes me wonder why despite no respite in sight, I often lean towards the light? Why do I look at the bright side when things are bleak? What is this optimism in me, and where does it come from?
A few months ago, I sat in a bar with an acquaintance. As we shared how life had fared, and as I told them the gist of the events of my own, they told me how I was an optimist at heart. I did not know of this before, nor had anyone ever said this to me. Naturally, I was a bit curious. I had never thought of myself as one, and I wanted to know the reasons for their conclusion. They told me how there was always a hint of possibility in how I talked about things—events that had destroyed me. They said I spoke of the ruin, sure, but I always made the debris look good, that even as I told them about my life and how it was coming undone at the time, I talked about it as if there was still hope for salvage. If that wasn’t optimism, they said, what was?
I was impressed by this observation, of course, and since then, I have called myself an optimist. Then, I saw the plants bending. I learned of auxin, of how to make the plant get enough light, this imbalance deforms its stems. It was the cost of optimism; it was the price of survival. To understand brightness, you had to get accustomed to the dark. The plants did it by bending towards the light, losing shape in the process. I have reason to believe we humans were not as different.