“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
These days, it’s hard to be an optimist. But it’s good to know that the breed does still exist.
Meet Gary Bermeosolo. What follows is an interview I had via e-mail with Bermeosolo, who also happens to be a former well-known Idahoan. The interview was spurred by an article written by Bermeosolo for The Boulder City News in Nevada, where Bermeosolo now lives (see the previous post “Good View”). A number of readers sent the article to me and I was intrigued.
I sent Bermeosolo some questions and here’s what he had to say:
JH: Gary, can you give us a short bio, little about yourself and your ties to Boise?
GB: About me: Let me begin by sharing that I don’t consider myself a “journalist,” but I do occasionally get an urge to write. Consequently, our weekly Boulder City Newspaper, which is owned by the Greenspun Corporation, has agreed to publish my articles from time-to-time. My optimism article was the latest.
I was born and raised in the Boise area. I attended Cole and Koelsch grade schools and, after moving to Southwest Ada County, Meridian High School. I left Idaho for a four-year tour in the US Navy, but returned to attend BSU, where I earned a BA in Communication Arts.
I worked in marketing for a couple of years and then returned to BSU as their Administrator of Veterans Affairs. While working at BSU, I pursued graduate courses in Adolescent Psychology in preparation for working with the Idaho Legislature.
While working at BSU, I was elected to a four-year term on the Board of Ada County Commissioners.
After completing my term of office, I spent the next 20 years as the Idaho State Administrator of Veterans Services. During this time, I also had the privilege of serving as a Garden City Councilman, completing the term of a councilman who had fallen ill.
In 2001, I retired from Idaho State service. My retirement was brief, however. The Nevada State Veterans Home was having difficulty meeting stringent federal nursing home standards, so the State of Nevada hired me as a “consultant.” Three months later, they asked me to assume the administrator’s helm at the Boulder City Home. So, I have been enjoying the desert sun for over six years now.
JH: What prompted you to write an article about optimism?
GB: The optimism article is actually an old speech of mine, reincarnated. While serving as Idaho’s Director of Veterans Services, I was sometimes accused of being an “eternal optimist.”
At first, I was offended, but I later came to understand the accusation was actually a compliment. I felt compelled to write a speech about what it is like to be an optimist in a pessimistic world.
Today, with our economy in the pits, and all the resulting pessimism, it seemed like a good idea to update my speech into an article.
JH: What were the most surprising things you learned during your research on the subject?
GB: I think the thing that surprised me most was learning how few true optimists there are. Optimists are an endangered species. They need reinforcements!
JH: What kind of response has the article engendered?
GB: I’ve been surprised at the interest this article has generated. For me, it was just another article about something I am passionate about. I don’t think the article is particularly well written, so I am somewhat astonished at the interest it has generated.
Complete strangers are calling thanking me for writing it. This piece is getting more attention than any article I have previously authored.
JH: Why do you think this topic touches such a nerve with people right now?
GB: Timing. I believe people are depressed with the state of our Nation and they are looking for something, anything, to be positive about. That’s why we have a new idealistic President and that’s why there is a quiet revolution occurring to change the status quo.
JH: Anything else you’d like to say?
GB: My hope is that people will take the article seriously and understand that the more optimistic we are as a society, the more likely we are to realize positive change.
The journey begins with encouraging words, which alter feelings, which transform actions. Just being positive about the way we see ourselves will enable us to embrace accountability, be responsible, and finally, reach a state of self-actualization.