Optimism vs. Pessimism

You guys know I'm a bit of a nerd ☺

I read R.A. Salvatore. That’s code for books about dungeons and dragons. Yeah, I said it. I may or may not have played some D&D back in the day (or last year).

Recently, my relational trauma group talked about Optimism vs. Pessimism and it made me think of one of my favorite sayings by one of my favorite characters, Montolio.

Montolio Debrouchee aka Mooshie (Ranger)

He said, “Those who aspire to less accomplish less. There can be no doubt. It is better, I think, to grab at the stars than to sit flustered because you know you cannot reach them. At least he who reaches will get a good stretch, a good view, and perhaps even a low hanging apple for his efforts.” 

Now that’s optimism! Woot! Woot!

Drittz (another favorite character of mine who happened to be in an emotionally bad place at the time) replied, “And perhaps also a low flying arrow fired by some unseen assailant.” 

Hello pessimism!

Worry not. Under Montolio’s tutelage and mentorship, Drizzt became an eternal optimist. Eventually. After much inner reflection.

I included the passage in case you wanted to read it. Salvatore has a knack for capturing both sides of the coin and for allowing the reader to feel Drizzt's turmoil right along with him.

For context, Guenhwyvar is a black panther and Montolio is blind.

Credit to: R.A. Salvatore, "Sojourn."

Starting from the left: Wulfgar, Drizzt, Bruenor Battlehammer (my true favorite character)


One night, beneath the moon’s silvery light, Drizzt and Montolio rested back in wooden chairs that the ranger had constructed high in the boughs of a large evergreen. The brightness of the waning moon, as it dipped and dodged behind fast moving, scattered clouds, enchanted the drow. 

Montolio couldn’t see the moon, of course, but the old ranger, with Guenhwyvar comfortably draped across his lap, enjoyed the brisk night no less. He rubbed a hand absently through the thick fur on Guenhwyvar’s muscled neck and listened to the many sound’s carried on the breeze, the chatter of a thousand creatures that the drow never even noticed, even though Drizzt’s hearing was superior to Montolio’s. Montolio chuckled every now and again, once when he heard a field mouse squealing angrily at an owl Hooter probably for interrupting its meal and forcing it to flee into its hole. 

Looking at the ranger and Guenhwyvar, so at ease and accepting of one another, Drizzt felt the pangs of friendship and guilt “Perhaps I should never have come,” he whispered, turning his gaze back to the moon. 

“Why?” Montolio asked quietly. “You do not like my food?” His smile disarmed Drizzt as the drow turned back to him somberly. 

“To the surface, I mean,” Drizzt explained, managing a laugh in spite of his melancholy. “Sometimes I think my choice a selfish act.” 

“Survival usually is,” Montolio replied. “I have felt that way myself on some occasions. I was once forced to drive my sword into a man’s heart. The harshness of the world brings great remorse, but mercifully it is a passing lament and certainly not one to carry into battle.” 

“How I wish it would pass,” Drizzt remarked, more to himself or to the moon than to Montolio. 

But the remark hit Montolio squarely. The closer he and Drizzt had become, the more the ranger shared Drizzt’s unknown burden. The drow was young by elf standards but 
was already world wise and skilled in battle beyond most professional soldiers. Undeniably one of 
Drizzt’s dark heritage would find barriers in an unaccepting surface world. By Montolio’s estimation, though, Drizzt should be able to get through these prejudices and live a long and prosperous life, given his considerable talents. What was it, Montolio wondered, that so burdens this elf? Drizzt suffered more than he smiled and punished himself more than he should. 

“Is yours an honest lament?” Montolio asked him. “Most are not, you know. Most self imposed burdens are founded on misperceptions. We at least we of sincere character always judge ourselves by stricter standards than we expect others to abide by. It is a curse, I suppose, or a blessing, depending on how one views it” He cast his sightless gaze Drizzt’s way. “Take it as a blessing, my friend, an inner calling that forces you to strive to unattainable heights.” 

“A frustrating blessing,” Drizzt replied casually. 

“Only when you do not pause to consider the advances that the striving has brought to you,” Montolio was quick to reply, as though he had expected the drow’s words. “Those who aspire to less accomplish less. There can be no doubt. It is better, I think, to grab at the stars than to sit flustered because you know you cannot reach them.” He shot Drizzt his typical wry smile. “At least he who reaches will get a good stretch, a good view, and perhaps even a low hanging apple for his effort!” 

“And perhaps also a low flying arrow fired by some unseen assailant” Drizzt remarked sourly. 


So, who are you? The optimist or the pessimist?

Have you read any of the Dark Elf books?


Note: There will be no post next Friday because I'll be back for the fun of the Insecure Writer's Support Group on July 6...see you then and have a Happy and Safe Fourth of July! Don't be this guy:

Jason Pierre Paul: blew up his hand with fireworks