My grandma’s joke went like this:
A pessimist child was put in a room filled with toys; an optimist in one filled with an enormous pile of horse crap.
20 minutes later, the researchers checked on the pessimist child.
He was seated in the middle of the room of brightly colored toys and action figures and books—crying. “I got a paper cut on a page in a book!” he sniveled. “And then, this GI Joe didn’t have the Kung Fu grip! I couldn’t find the and the toy box looked too heavy to lift to see if there was anything else in there!” His complaints went on.
They opened the second door and were momentarily overwhelmed by the smell of disturbed horse dung. The optimist child was digging frantically in the middle of the pile; manure flying everywhere. “All this horse shit!” she said breathlessly, “there’s gotta be a pony in here somewhere!”
Contrary to appearances, I’m that kid.
My grandmother used to say I was like a was a 40 year-old woman in a twelve year-old’s body. I was a taciturn kid: foul-mouthed and dry-humored and I always traded my Halloween Mars Bars for my sister’s black licorice and Good-n-Plentys. But even though I’m almost 40 now, I still totally believe in fairies and angels and ESP and I think that Smartphones are like magic portholes to the most amazing future. Sure, there seems to be a lot of awful things going down in the world, but I still believe that somewhere in all that horse shit, there’s bound to be a pony.
The summer when I was six, a fat, brown and white paint pony appeared in our back yard. It was the best Christmas ever! In June!! Sassafrass had belonged to our neighbors up the road: cunning and troublesome and totally useless and they were glad to be rid of him. He was iron-mouthed and spoiled; he bucked and bit and ran under low branches to scrape you off his back. I loved him.
You don’t magically get a pony one morning and then start bitching about details.
And, anyway—as far as I’ve seen, ponies are all pretty much like that.
I’m the girl who actually believes that when a door closes, a window opens, that people are basically good, that every cloud has a silver lining, that there’s a Chanel coat or a pair of Gucci boots in every Goodwill—it’s up to you to find them. That there are no magical solutions, but the real solutions sometimes seem like magic when you look at them in hindsight—in the way that you can transform raw fabric, wood, and metal into things of beauty. As my favorite author, Terry Pratchett said: “It doesn’t stop being magic just because you know how it’s done.”