In 1913 Pollyanna was published, a somewhat syrupy book about an optimistic orphan child. Eleanor H. Porter was the author, who gained wealth and fame as a writer of such tales. Her tales were not critically acclaimed, but they were well loved. Think Dickens without the surrealist elements. Her's were darn good stories with a moral bent.
Eleanor H. Porter
The book opens with the focus on Aunt Polly and her servant Nancy, before the arrival of the orphaned and impoverished Pollyanna. Aunt Polly is strict, seemingly unloving and set in her ways. Nancy is struggling under her workload and the constant scolding of her lady boss.
When Pollyanna arrives, she is given a bleak, unadorned attic room. She confides a secret to the maid, who has befriended her. She is sent to eat bread and milk in the kitchen, as a punishment on her first night. She explains why she seems happy. Her father taught her "the game" she says. Years before, she had wanted a doll for Christmas, but only crutches were left in the mission barrel.
"Oh, yes; the game was to just find something about everything to be glad about--no matter what 'twas," rejoined Pollyanna, earnestly. "And we began right then--on the crutches."
Her father tells her to be glad that she doesn't need the crutches. From then on in life she plays "the game."
As the book progresses it is often hard to watch her struggling optimism, when one wants to punch the aunt in the nose. Still, we all would be better off playing "the game" with a certain amount of moderation.
For me, this means keeping my eyes open, so I don't miss those good things. Like Pollyanna and her attic windows, which provide more beauty than any picture could, more of a sense of freedom that she could fly away, I keep finding things of beauty. It does not mean ignoring the negative, the injutices, our own faults and the faults of others, it means that we cling to the beauty of something that grows in the cracks.