However, optimism is a strange animal that refuses to be satiated even when fed with cold hard facts. It finds an explanation for every slight, a convincing argument for every rebuff and a rationale for every rude remark spoken. It has that sunny disposition that cynics find absolutely irritating while the hopeful see in it the very breath of life itself.
Some would call it 'denial' but that would be too simplistic an assessment to make. Maybe it's just the survival instinct attempting a last stand. Or a feeble effort at trying to see something normal even when there isn't any trace of it.
I couldn't help thinking along these lines when I met this friend who told me that a relationship had ended. She seemed relieved, elated and acted as if a weight had gone off her shoulders. I wasn't surprised but I didn't say so because it would have seemed a tad inappropriate. My only thought was, why did it take so long?
I wish there were easier explanations but there aren't any. My friend's reaction, for instance, was not that unusual even though her apparent inaction seemed rather exasperating and, at times, quite annoying. It was exasperating because we couldn't imagine how anyone could be blind to some of the most outrageous behaviour. How could anyone be unaware of what was really going on? How can anyone not be rational about this?
But the cold hard fact of life is that people do not like to be rational about such things. The obvious is rarely palatable, and that's what the rational approach does – shows us a situation for what it really is and confronts us with its truth in all its gory details.
However, most people like to believe in the possibility of a happy ending. They may agree with the facts presented but they won't see it as the complete picture but only as part of the process. Excuses will be offered for any apparent deviation so that the 'perpetrator' is not seen as some sort of a villainous character. The nastiness will be brushed aside as a minor quirk, that's all.
It's part of this elaborate process to avoid disappointment even if it involves being in denial. It is not a conscious act of being untruthful even though it may appear to be so. I suppose it's one way of making it appear that one has not made a mistake, that somehow one was not made a fool of, and one's rational, cool-headed side is still quite intact.
No one likes to be considered a fool or, at least, as someone whose trust was betrayed because it suggests that one is capable of being betrayed and made a fool of. It exposes weakness at a very fundamental level and one that we don't like to admit. We like to project strength, rationality, common sense and a with-it-ness. Anything that's less would make us look stupid and weak.
Hence, when I asked my friend, 'why do you seek out wounds', she didn't reply because she wasn't ready to peer closer and inward and discover the answer for herself. Some answers do not just fall from the sky, they need to be sought with a mountaineer's determination to reach the peak. And even then, a satisfactory answer is not a guarantee. Truth rarely is. And that's the cold hard fact of life: it is not pat answers to questions that we need but truth that will set us free.
Question is, are we prepared to listen to that truth? And therein lies the crunch.