My young friend Alfredo is one of the most optimistic people I know. He is the son of Mexican immigrants and has gone through the hardships many people of that background have also suffered. At first glance he looks like one of any number of the young Latinos who our politicians have labeled “Dreamers”. Technically speaking he is not, because Alfredo’s parents are naturalized citizens and were never
During one of our quieter conversations, my friend confessed that he grew up in dire poverty. His entire family was employed harvesting food crops. Alfredo doesn’t remember ever staying in one town more than a few months at a time. Even though they moved frequently, my friend and his sister earned good marks in public school and both graduated from high school with honors.
After graduation, he continued to work menial part-time jobs in order to pay his way through trade school and to contribute to his family’s needs. In fact, he was working part-time when we became acquainted with each other. Alfredo is now employed full-time in his chosen profession and has become one of the favorite employees at his workplace.
While thinking about Alfredo for this post, I cannot remember many times when he was sad or discouraged. Those times he felt unhappy have been short-lived. He is a very curious young man and almost always wears a wide smile.
Alfredo has shared what he thinks is the cause of his unshakable optimism. He was born with an upbeat personality. His parents are forces of great energy and confidence. They placed their unconditional faith and love into their two children. Alfredo said that this background was tempered by the harshness of their circumstances along with the prejudices and xenophobia displayed by the dominant culture. He cannot afford to be pessimistic for even a day.
He has been through so much difficulty and has encountered a great many cruel people that he has been tempted to give up. Alfredo saw through these obstacles and learned to use the failures of society as lessons in how not to live his own life. This is what has made Alfredo an unstoppable force, much to the dismay of those who hate people like him.
My friend is proof that thinking good thoughts enables good things to happen. His optimism is not superficial, but is genuine and strong to the core. Even though his life has often been haunted by the loneliness and poverty that children of migrant workers routinely face, Alfredo was able to dream of climbing out of the quicksand of his existence. He never wants to return to the mind-numbing, unhealthy conditions of poverty.
It’s good to know people like Alfredo.
The Blue Jay of Happiness likes this quip from Oscar Wilde: “If you pretend to be good, the world takes you very seriously. If you pretend to be bad, it doesn’t. Such is the astounding stupidity of optimism.”