Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

January 6, 2008


Optimism will help you make lemonade with 2008’s lemons


      If you are an incurable optimist like me, it is because you have made a habit of choosing to look on the bright side of every situation. Optimism is hard to beat and pessimism is a dead-end street.

          Being an optimist does not make everything wonderful. It just changes the way you respond to the bad things that happen. If carelessly you spill milk on the kitchen floor, you refuse to cry over spilt milk. You simply decide that the floor needed mopping anyway and the milk will improve the shine that Ajax alone would have given the tile.

          Whenever you wish you can turn a problem into a blessing. Sometimes the best way to do that is to laugh about the problem. You do that whenever there is simply no way to make lemonade out of your lemon.

          For example, one evening as I walked out of a restaurant in Pensacola I felt a big raindrop fall on my shirt. I commented to my wife, “I think it is starting to rain.” She glanced at me, looked at my shirt, and doubled up laughing right there on the sidewalk, in front of God and everybody.

          I did not have to ask why she was laughing. I took one look at my shirt and the mystery was solved. No, it was not raining. What I thought was a big raindrop was a big blob of pigeon do-do. I had been had by a pigeon that thought I looked like an outdoor toilet.

          In that unholy moment I had several options. I could curse the pigeon but that would have done no good. I could moan about my misfortune but not even my sweet wife would have sympathized with me. Or I could wipe the mess off and refuse to complain.

          I chose not to whine about it. I even tried to put a positive spin on it, telling my wife that I was a very special person. More than likely I was the only man in America that day, or perhaps the whole world, whose shirt had been the landing field for pigeon manure. She continued laughing but I felt better.

          Looking back now I realize how special that day was. That happened 25 years ago and it has not happened again. In fact over the 75 years of my life, there has been only one pigeon-dropping day. What is more, I have never heard of that happening to another human being. I have never met another person who was singled out for that honor. Considering that there are more than six billion of us on planet earth, and probably half that many pigeons flying around, I must be a very, very special man. I wish now I had saved the shirt.

          Laughing at a problem can have long-lasting results. My wife and I laughed about the pigeon muck then and every time we recall that day we laugh again. I can merely say the word “pigeon,” and my wife will start laughing.

          You can believe that she has enjoyed telling others about “the day of the pigeon.” I never bring it up but she delights in recalling the time I thought it had started raining. Whenever she tells the story, our friends start laughing too.

          So I look at in a positive way. Hearing about my being pelted with pigeon fertilizer had made other people happy. So even on my worst days I can still be good for something.

          Irish blessings are special to me. I love this one dearly:

          “May those who love us, love us; and those who don’t love us, may God turn their hearts; and if He doesn’t turn their hearts, may he turn their ankles so we will know them by their limping.”

          In the spirit of the Irishman who composed that prayer, I offer this amended version of another Irish blessing:

          “May the road rise up to meet you; may the wind at your back be so strong that pigeons will not fly over your head. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. May you realize how blessed you are that it was the rain and not warm pigeon compost that fell softly on your shirt. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand and shield you from the pigeon that wants to make you a very special person. Amen.”

          No matter how many lemons fall on you during 2008, keep laughing and make lots of lemonade to share with your friends. + + +