Optimism in the new year brings joy

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, February 25, 2014

By Melinda Bowman

Guest Columnist 

All my life I’ve loved the prospect of beginning a new year. Yes, 2013 is behind us with all of its joys and disappointments, which hopefully left us wiser and better for having lived it. The prospect of a new year, however, brings with it an eraser which has wiped the slate clean for a new beginning and evokes hopefulness for something better, something unspoiled and pristine. Anne of Green Gables put it best when she said, “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.” That’s a perfectly good way to view life. But, sadly, many of us don’t operate that way. We look at tomorrow’s list of things to do with exasperation and dread rather than with an air of expectancy that something good will happen in us or, better yet, through us.

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I expect Pollyanna, a young orphan girl in the 1913 children’s classic by Eleanor H. Porter, would view tomorrow’s forthcoming exasperations with gladness since she adored playing the “glad” game in which she sought to turn every negative into something she could be glad about. In fact, the young character transformed an entire dreary New England town into a pleasant place to live and brought joy to townsfolk who had forgotten how to be optimistic. It was Pollyanna’s father who taught her to be grateful even in the saddest of times. When she was very young she had received a missionary barrel full of things at Christmas. When she and her father opened the barrel, she had hoped to find a doll to call her own. Instead, she found a pair of crutches. That was the day her father taught her to play the “glad” game. Rather than mourn the fact she did not receive a doll, Pollyanna could be glad she did not need to use the crutches. And so it began. Pollyanna became the delight of her community as she began touching lives in a fresh new way helping those she came in contact with to see their hardships through different lenses.

I saw a literary interpretation of the novel, Pollyanna, performed by a young teenage girl just this past weekend through the National Christian Forensics and Communicators Association speech and debate tournament in Montgomery, Alabama. What an impact a ten-minute interpretation of an old classic made on those watching.

As we embark upon this new year, I have been asked to pen a column through which I hope to share a glimpse of the people and the sense of community which makes our home of Poplarville special to those of us privileged to live here. I hope to share with you little snippets of why small-town living is unique and how even a trip to the local grocery store can leave someone walking away with a lighter heart just by simply encountering an employee who has worked there for decades and is known throughout Poplarville simply by his first name. I don’t think it is possible to have an encounter with Bobby without leaving uplifted and with a smile. Yes, many of you are smiling right now because you know who I am talking about. In fact, I have yet to walk away from him without a smile on my face and a wistful thought of how glad I am to live in a place where people know you by name…or, even if they don’t know your name, they somehow make you feel like they know you and that you really do matter.

As we embark upon this new journey together, I hope we all begin seeing one another with fresh eyes and give Pollyanna’s “glad” game a go of it …with hopefulness that 2014 will be a great year and that each of us will lighten someone else’s load simply by an encounter.