A few weeks ago a friend insisted I watch the Disney movie POLLYANNA. I was way past Disney when it came out in 1960, the year I turned 18, so I'd never seen it. But, I had heard the term used in connection with me over the years even then (the original story came out in 1901) as a put down of what some supposedly more sophisticated people took to be my naïvete and childish optimism.
I had already written dark poems and stories about racism and drug addiction and more in 1960, but my usual attitude was based in a belief in the infinite possibilities of love, So when I encountered my first intellectuals and academics and literary scenesters, I was often treated as less intelligent because I rejected cynicism and even irony for sincerity and tenderness. The word "sentimental" was used as a weapon against me.
So seeing POLLYANNA for the first time was a pleasant surprise. First for the extraordinary cast of Hollywood character actors and aging stars, and then for the unfolding story, and then for the obvious message of love and gratitude conquering cynicism and pessimism. So much so that I found myself close to sobbing at the end when my friend, the incomparable psychiatrist author Mindy Fullilove, said: "that's you, Michael."
Though I don't think I'm ultimately worthy of the comparison to the Hayley Mills character's purpose and impact, I sure am gratified that someone thinks I am.