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Home arrow Opinion arrow Jeff Petersen: ON SECOND THOUGHT arrow The Big O


The Big O

Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back.

— Author unknown

I come from a long line of optimists. Ever since my grandpa, Oswald Christian Andersen Johnsen Swensen Petersen, bought the farm, the family has been better off. That jolly workaholic defied the stereotype of the melancholy Dane.

OK, some people look at “buying the farm” as an opportunity to spend 16 hours a day driving a tractor in circles imagining they are a NASCAR driver in a race being broadcast on nationwide TV.

“They’re turning left, again, Bobby Dale.”

Other people look at “buying the farm” as dying.

Big difference.

It’s the difference between optimism and pessimism.

It’s the difference between seeing the Big O (the Oregon Ducks) as shining in the BCS championship football game Monday evening. Or seeing the home-state team ducking and running in fear of powerful Auburn, with its Heisman trophy-winning quarterback, Cam “Fig” Newton.

My dad, the drill sergeant, was also an optimist. Too bad he failed to live long enough to see the OSU Beavers win the national baseball championship twice. Dad would also be amazed that the Ducks have reached the national championship football game.

Dad’s idea of optimism, though, was different. He’d look at the sun and declare that there was plenty of time to haul 13 truckloads of hay from field to barn by sundown.

Certainly, sometimes optimism can go too far. Take the guy who jumps off a 20-story building and when he reaches the seventh floor shouts, “So far so good.”

What’s more, sometimes there are recessions, war, poverty and the Transportation Security Administration that deserve serious solutions. Optimism can’t wish away problems.

And despair, too, can be funny. For proof, check out despair.com. It’s further evidence that when life hands you a bag of rocks, the best idea is to build a cathedral, or design a funny T-shirt.

Optimism can help a person be open to solutions — and put them into action.

Optimism even shows up in the obituary column. What better praise could a person get at the end of life than that given longtime Wallowa resident Leon “Bill” Fisher: “Those who knew him,” Fisher’s obituary noted, “say his greatest gift was his ability to approach challenges with a positive attitude.”

The world needs more optimists — much the best way to get up in the morning.

Sure, life will bring you lemons. That’s guaranteed. Things aren’t perfect.

Bad times, though, won’t last forever — at least for most of us.

Believe in yourself. Choose to be happy, whether you’re wearing battered boots or a Brioni suit.

Share the good times.

Dance and sing like nobody’s watching. My grandpa did. It made all the difference.

Whether or not he would be optimistic about Oregon’s chances against Auburn in the national championship football game is another story. I am.

Go Ducks.

Reach the author at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


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