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The Concerned Optimist: Opinions


Opinions can be the bane or bridge of our existence. With people sharing more hot takes than a cactus garden in Phoenix, it can be harder to decipher through the noise. 

My concern lies with the influx of opinions. I know social media is not an intellectual buffet. However, it would not hurt people to tweet like they’ve used a salad fork in their lifetime. There are of course opinions on a new show or way to flick your eyeliner. There are also opinions on dismantling oppressive ways that carry more individualism than collective growth. What is to be received from opinions? Where is the story to propel society? 

My optimism exists in that our opinions can be a true thread for connection. They can enlighten us to act in what we do not know. We can also be enlightened to contribute to an ever-evolving society breaking from revolting norms.

How can we learn from each other? When can the Internet become a place of sharing instead of posting? Should I log off and touch grass instead?

Below are selected essay and personal collections from writers sharing their experiences to elevate a more productive union: 

  1. A Burst of Light and Other Essays by Audre Lorde: The inimitable Audre Lorde writes about her experience as a Black lesbian feminist. Her essays coincide with her lung cancer diagnosis and seeking medical alternatives. Her words ring poignantly. 
  2. I Don’t Want to Die Poor by Michael Arcenaux: A preeminent Black queer voice, Arcenaux has the gift to ground societal conversations with humor and vigor. In this collection, he writes about the financial perils of chasing your dreams. There is coarse language that only propels his story. His first book, “I Can’t Date Jesus” is wonderfully insightful and engaging. 
  3. No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality by Michael J. Fox: The beloved actor shares his recovery from spinal cord surgery and subsequent recovery after a fall in 2018, along with his decades long Parkinson’s diagnosis. He writes about Tracy, his wife, and raising their family. I recommend listening to this book on audiobook. 
  4. Hola Papi!: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons by John Paul Brammer: Known as the “Chicano Carrie Bradshaw,” Brammer shares his upbringing in rural Oklahoma as a queer, mixed-race kid to becoming a revered advice columnist. 

Listen. It is a powerfully potent push. Act. It is a consistently refreshing proclamation.

Where does your optimism thrive in a noisy world?

Ashley Paul is a hopeless wanderer, baker, runner, and photographer. She is passionate about supporting high school juniors and seniors to write compelling stories for their post-secondary careers. Her favorite genres are young adult, literary fiction, and memoir.

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