Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Most Optimistic Person in the World

Last night I watched a documentary about the first person to drive an automobile across the United States. The year was 1903. His name was H. Nelson Jackson.

The Vermont, the touring car driven across the United States

There were no roads. He drove over wagon trails, railroad tracks, dirt paths. It is amazing that he made it over the mountains. He was only driving this because he made a bet. Then it became a mission. He paid for it all himself ($8,000). The car had no windshield nor a top. The tires kept getting punctured from rocks. They had to wait five days twice to have new tires shipped to them on a train or a stagecoach.

But through it all in his letters to his wife, he kept saying the worst is behind us. It will be easier from here. I don't know how he kept saying that. It would have been so easy to give up. He was an eternal optimist. And the best part was he was right. It did get better. He made it across the country in 63 days, well short of the three months he gave himself.

But did he stop there. No, he joined the army in World War I (he was in his 40's) and was a decorated hero. He started the American Legion after the war. He lived to be 82 years old.

Bud, the dog he bought on his trip with his own goggles

I hope that I will have just a small portion of that optimism in my daily life. Wow, with that you can do anything.

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