I like this joke: The optimist sees the glass as half full, the pessimist sees the glass as half empty and the engineer sees the glass as twice as big as it needs to be. Maybe it is because despite an engineering degree, and a fascination for the darker sides of story telling, I remain in my heart an optimist even while understanding the arguments of the other two camps. It’s all going to be okay, somehow. I really think that.
Some schmaltzy things turn me off, particularly if I feel like my emotions are being manipulated. Others, ones that sort of just are what they are, can put a huge grin on my face. When I was writing x0, a novel with plenty of dark scenes, I wanted a ridiculously hopeful song for Lola to suggest using in order to provide Nwanyi with encouragement. I found the late 50’s classic “High Hopes” and it was perfect. This song, which most people associate with an ant moving a rubber tree plant, was first popularized by Frank Sinatra, with music written by Jimmy Van Heusen and lyrics by Sammy Cahn. It was introduced in the 1959 film “A Hole in the Head”.
If you want to take a break from all that Christmas music you’ve been hearing, enjoy this video of Frank Sinatra singing High Hopes with what must have been a group of school children from the late 50’s or early 60’s. It is guaranteed to put a giant grin on your face and might even add to your holiday good cheer.
You can also buy this song at Amazon.com. The following is the excerpt from x0 that mentions “High Hopes”.
Lola savored the feeling of Somadina’s friendship. She’d had so few women friends over her adult life. She’d been too busy with work, with Alex, with the kids. Too often there had been so little in common. And here was a woman, for heavens sake barely older than Lola’s own daughter and a world away in every sense of the word. Yet in her hearty self-sufficiency, in her attachment to her child, her loyalty to her sister, and in her good fortune in attracting the affection of a genuinely good man, they had more in common than Lola had with most women she knew.
Lola reached back with a mental equivalent of a hug.
We are both strong telepaths, she thought, knowing that Somadina would pick up the feeling and fill in words which were close enough to the meaning to get the point. We know that Nwanyi is at least a weak receiver herself after all of her association with you. At least Olumiji thinks so. Let’s try to send her a message together. Sort of doubling the transmitting power, if you will. Lola felt Somadina’s confusion over the last phrase. She tried again. Let’s push together. An image of two women pushing a large rock. Somadina got it.
Music, Somadina suggested. Nwanyi and I both like music. American music.
Okay. Let’s pick a song to encourage her. Lola thought for minute, and tried singing something in her head. Out came a song from her childhood, Frank Sinatra’s hit High Hopes about an over-achieving ant trying to move a houseplant.
What is that? Somadina asked. Don’t you know any rock and roll?
Yikes. She didn’t think there was a rock song that was particularly encouraging about someone surviving.