The Great Believers

Sometimes, at the end of the day, I’m still awake enough to read a BOOK. It’s in fact my favorite way to step towards sleep. Lately it’s been The Great Believers, a BE YOO TI FUL story of a group of friends in 1980s Chicago, enduring the AIDS Crisis. It follows the friends over the next 30 years of their lives, as they try and make sense of loss, haunted by the people they lost. Personally I’ve been haunted by this part I read the other night:

Cecily said, That’s the difference between optimism and naivety. No one in this room is naive. Naive people haven’t been through real trials yet, so they think it could never happen to them. Optimists have a been through it already, and we keep getting up each day because we believe we can keep it from happening again. Or we trick ourselves into thinking it.

Richard said, ‘All belief is a trick.’

I think a lot about naivety vs. optimism, the inscrutable differences between the two, and I’ve never seen them explained so truthfully. But for me, belief isn’t so much a trick, but a choice. It’s an active selecting, it’s waking up every day, saying yes to something you can’t necessarily see or know for certain. It’s a little stupid and it’s incredibly brave. I’d rather be a little dumb and brave, then very smart and afraid. I believe, I believe, I believe.

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