Saturday, June 2, 2012
My Little Louie Zamperini
Here is the other thought I've been chewing on for awhile that my husband and I actually debated: are some people born to be more pessimistic while other's more optimistic? Is Preston 'naturally' or 'wired' more pessimistic and depressed? My opinion is yes and here is why: we were all created differently, pre-wired with specific gifts and talents and certain ailments and challenges. All of us are here to put to use the talents and skills we have and work to overcome our weaknesses and shortcomings. The mental arena gets a little tricky because sometimes it seems that there are some ailments that are almost impossible (if not totally impossible) to overcome. There are several personality disorders that even with weekly therapy rarely are overcome. However, I am of the opinion that if you decide to do something and put in the effort, there are no limits.
I'm reading 'Unbroken' by Laura Hillenbrand at the moment (it's driving me a little nuts because I find myself wide awake and reading furiously at one in the morning) and the author brings up the same question - are we pre-wired? Are our viewpoints a product of upbringing and environment? Is it a combination of the two? Louie Zamperini was a track star at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.That guy could run fast. He was also a tremendous troublemaker and extremely resourceful as a young boy; he was super naughty and drove his mother to her wits' end. He joined the army before the draft, became a bombadier and winds up in a two-man life raft with two other men for 46 days after his plane crashes (it's in the prologue so I'm not spoiling anything). Himself and the pilot spend their days talking about the future, talking about their families, plans for after the war - neither one actually considers that they might die in that raft although it seems practically impossible to survive. The third fellow, Mac, sat in silence; "he couldn't imagine a future. To him it seemed, the world was too far gone." (147)
The author continues with the following:
It remains a mystery why these three young men, veterans of the same training and the same crash, differed so radically in their perceptions of their plight. Maybe the difference was biological; some men may be wired for optimism, others for doubt. As a toddler, Louie had leapt from a train and watched it bear his family away, yet had remained cheerfully unconcerned about his safety, suggesting that he may have been born an optimist. Perhaps the men's histories had given them opposing convictions about their capacity to overcome adversity. Phil was a deeply religious man, carrying a faith instilled in him by his parents. "I had told Al several times before to always do his best as he knew how to do it," Phil's father once wrote, "and when things get beyond his skill and ability to ask the Lord to step in and help out."
The following is what I admire about Louie the most:
From earliest childhood, Louie had regarded every limitation placed on him as a challenge to his wits, his resourcefulness, and his determination to rebel. The result had been a mutinous youth. As maddening as his exploits had been for his parents and his town, Louie's success in carrything them off had given him the conviction that he could think his way around any boundary. Now, as he was cast into extremity, despair and death became the foucs of his defiance. The same attributes that had made him the boy terror of Torrance were keeping him alive in the greatest struggle of his life.
Though all three men faced the same hardship, their differing perceptions of it appeared to shaping their fates. Louie and Phil's hope displaced their fear and inspired them to work toward their survival. Mac's resignation seemed to paralyze him, and the less he participated in their efforts to survive, the more he slipped. Louie and Phil's optimism, and Mac's hopelessness, were becoming self-fulfilling. (148)
I do believe that what you think about, you bring about. I related this story to Preston the other night as he was going on a pessimistic and 'bleak future' tirade - and I pointed out that he does have the ability to change things. If he thinks he'll never have friends, he's probably right. If he thinks he will have friends, he's probably right. I've also heard from several parents lately (in casusal conversation but it must obviously be a message I need to hear) the importance of building kids up. There are two ways to go about everything, especially parenting, and that is to go from a place of positives or a place of negatives. My big goal this week is to put a positive spin on everything; rather than say 'no' say, 'yes, as soon as your chores are done.' "Yes, that sounds like fun sometime in the next week or two." "Wow Preston! You're pretty resourceful and I'm impressed that you find ways of getting what you want. Now it's time to go in the dungeon for stealing my stash of dark chocolate. Just think of it as hide and go seek with no way of getting out! Fun huh?!" Ha! Just kidding. I guess when he is resourceful but naughty, I just pull my Love and Logic on him. I'm putting it out there that he will be my little Louie Zamperini and although he may lean more toward a born pessimist, there is still the chance of that environmental influence. Would you say it is pre-wiring or environmental?