Optimism - We Do Have A Choice!

FTLComm - Tisdale - Thursday, January 17, 2002
When I was working on my New Years predictions and discovered the gloomy economic prospects that seem to loom ahead of us in this year I realised that I could tell you what I was thinking and know full well that you, if you are a Saskatchewan person could handle such bad news, even if it was just speculation. The reason I felt that it was okay to tell such a story is that from a lifetime of experience I have learned that most people I have met are smart. Not only are they smart but they also have seem more than their share of disappointment and have learned how to handle the negative feelings that come with major set backs.

You all have at one time or another seen things that seemed to be okay rapidly deteriorate into a complete mess and that has taught you that there is no alternative but to sort things out and start again. I think that this is one of the reasons I enjoyed both coaching and having my sons involved in hockey. In a team sport like hockey you have to learn how to deal with crushing defeat and that giving up is not an option.

This morning we are three and a half months from the beginning of seeding. The grain market is linked to the economy and it looks very much like its on the skids but every farmer is clinging to the hope that the demand for grain, especially the drought resistant wheat and barley will be enough to keep a reasonable price available. There is hope that a little more snow will come and the long range forecasts of rain this spring and summer will take place and we will see a good crop.

It doesn't matter if these hopes seem only to be wishful thinking (actually they have some sound basis) but a positive outlook beats the hell out of any and all alternatives. Retailers were surprised this Christmas to see Saskatchewan people spending more money than the national average and they should not have been surprised, after all this is "next year country". Where people for generations have looked at the sky and the land and said to themselves, "there is always a chance things will be better."

Tuesday morning I was talking to a farmer near Maple Creek. He had called about something else entirely but our conversation about climate and weather occupied about seventeen minutes of the twenty minute call. This is a farmer who went through the motions on a few fields then realised that three bushel and acre was not going to cover the cost of the fuel and decided to put his energy and resources into "next year." Most of his neighbours did the same. No crop, this past year and small poor crops the two years before that. This winter, what little snow fell is gone, melted and evaporated away by the relentless wind leaving he and his family sitting on a dust blown tumble wheel desert that everyone expects to be infested with massive numbers of grasshoppers next summer.

But despite all of the negative signs he is committed to his farm, his way of life and putting in a fresh crop in a few months time. He knows that like his father before him, there were dry years and sometimes there were meager crops but if you hang in there you can happily survive and perhaps sometimes prosper.

Optimist is a little more costly, both financially and emotionally but it is tremendously more beneficial than pessimism. I only by a lottery ticket when it is five million or more and I only buy a maximum of two so my gambling habit is well in check but what I am doing is buying an optimistic dream. For two dollars I can think about "What if" for a few minutes and I almost never check to see if I won as that would wipe out my two dollar investment. I know it sounds foolish but we need to have a few "what ifs" in our lives.

So make a choice, you can be sour or you can hope for the best, either way the future will come upon us anyway so I would be in favour of looking for a sunny side.

Timothy W. Shire