And so sometimes life unfolds in the most unexpected of ways. A presidential election. Barack Obama. Sarah Palin. The ban on gay marriage. Oppression. Polarization. Disappointment for some. Jubilation for others.

All of this has precipitated the end of an emotionally unhealthy friendship in my life. Notice I didn’t say caused, but precipitated. There is always something underneath what really does in a friendship. It is never about that moment or one issue. All that does is tell you something else has been going on.

And so here is what I have figured out about myself. I am very proud of the fact that I am an eternal optimist. I have worked hard to cultivate it because it was neither genetic nor learned in my childhood home. But sometimes eternal optimism is not healthy. It can blind you and make it easy to detach from what is real. If a person tells you he is a liar and that lying comes easily to him, it is not optimistic to pretend that doesn’t matter. It is at best idealistic and at worst stupid.

Election Night 2008 was a moment like no other in our country. On a collective level, I was heartened along with so many Americans that we had spoken up for change and hope. On a personal level, it will always be the night I acknowledged a truth about myself — a leopard will not change his spots just because I will it so with my optimism.

Change and hope indeed.