Looking for Hope

Still Looking, Always Looking

Last fall, I blogged quite a bit about how I was looking for hope. And then the new year arrived, and I just sort of . . . stopped. Not the looking. Just the blogging about it. It wasn't because I'd FOUND hope, really. (Although things were beginning to feel a little more hopeful back then, with a new president and vaccines on the horizon, y'know?) It was more that blogging about my search was hard, and I was ready to stop talking about it.

But I'm actually always . . . 

IMG_6221

And I'm feeling like talking about it again. So I'll probably blog about it now and then, going forward. Not on any kind of regular schedule. But every once in a while, I'll share my thoughts.

==

History says
Don’t hope on this side of the grave
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.
    ---- Seamus Heaney

Lately, I've been feeling a bit . . . off. Not terrible. But also not great. Feeling stuck in an endless loop, and wondering how any of THIS (defined any way you'd like) will End Up. And I know I'm not the only one. Some of you have blogged about feeling this way. My in-real-life friends are talking about it, too. And so is my family.

I think . . . it's These Times.

I mean, we're 18 months into this Covid mess. And the country seems to be . . . well, let's just say . . .  stretched. And it feels like kindness and care and concern have disappeared. And then there's the climate. And . . . ohmygod how can this even BE? 

It's a lot.
Y'know?

Lately, I've been thinking about History.
And my Grandmother.

Even though there has been a lot of History (with a capital H) that has happened since I was born in 1959, it's all seemed kind of distant to me somehow. None of the history-making things of my lifetime have felt all that . . . personal for me. They didn't impact my day-to-day life, for example. They didn't direct what I could or couldn't do or where I could go. Everything kept rolling along . . .  same as it ever was, and I never felt threatened (for lack of a better word) or worried about the future. Even though History was happening all the time, I could still pretty much depend that the future structure of my life would hold.

But now? Well, somehow the future doesn't feel so dependable or seem guaranteed in that same kind of way. And that really does suck the hope right out of the room, doesn't it?

On that cheery note, let's step back and talk about my grandmother for a minute.

6a011570aae89d970b0115713e56ae970b

My grandmother was born in 1909, and she died just over 100 years later in 2009. Which means she saw a lot of History in her long life, and she lived through a LOT of crises. I mean, think about it . . .  

  • She was a child during World War I.
  • And during the Spanish Flu outbreak.
  • As a young wife and mother, she experienced the Great Depression. On a dairy farm.
  • And in her 30s, she went through World War II separated from her husband for years -- while raising 2 young children. (On a dairy farm).

My grandmother lived through some SERIOUS history.

And somehow, until recently, it never occurred to me to consider what it might have been like for her to live through SO MANY major crises of history -- ALL of them pretty darn personal. During those crises, she woke up every day not knowing how [fill-in-the-blank: WWI, Spanish Flu, The Great Depression, WWII . . . ] would end. She didn't know how any of these stories would turn out while she was living them -- and they really did impact her on daily basis. Restrictions. Rations. Loss. Personal risk. What kept her moving forward? What gave her hope . . . when all of these things were happening during her early life. It must have felt pretty bleak. 

I never really thought about how significant these events would have been for her. First of all, because she never spoke of them. But I think the big thing was that, of course . . . I already KNEW the outcomes! I knew what happened: that the Spanish Flu ended and the Great Depression ended and World War II ended . . . with Victory. So it was easy for me to minimize the reality of how it must have been for her, living through the uncertainty. But my grandmother didn't know. And she got through all it anyway! She must have felt pretty crappy while any of these things were going on all around her. And yet . . . she managed through it. She must have had some hope, and a lot of resilience.

6a011570aae89d970b0115713e578d970b-800wi

Hope and History.

I think it's hard for us to have hope right now . . . because we don't know the ending of this history we're living through. We don't know what will happen or how things will turn out. And we aren't terribly patient about it either. So it's all this . . . unnerving uncertainty. . .  that's sucking the hope from our lives.

But maybe we can look to the past . . . to see how resilient - as a people - we have been. And how we can be now.

Yes. Things ARE bleak at the moment.
It doesn't feel good.
We don't know any of the endings to our current storylines.
It's unsettling, and uncertainty is never easy.

But History - and my grandmother - show me that we are resilient, and that somehow we find ways to get through whatever History we need to get through. It may not feel comfortable, but we can do it. I think, maybe, that hope and history DO rhyme.

And that's where I'm finding hope today.

==

(Speaking of rhyming . . . let's have a poem, shall we? Because if this isn't a poem of hope, I don't know what is.)

In Any Event
Dorianne Laux

If we are fractured
we are fractured
like stars
bred to shine
in every direction,
through any dimension,
billions of years
since and hence.

I shall not lament
the human, not yet.
There is something
more to come, our hearts
a gold mine
not yet plumbed,
an uncharted sea.

Nothing is gone forever.
If we came from dust
and will return to dust
then we can find our way
into anything.

What we are capable of
is not yet known,
and I praise us now, 
in advance.

==

Today's poem was selected for inclusion in How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, edited by James Crews, Storey Publishing, 2021. Click here for more information about the poet, Dorianne Laux.

 

 

 

 

 


Sometimes Mondays . . . Are Full of Hope

Last year, there were many times when I felt short on . . .

IMG_2421

But you already know this. It was a frequent blog topic for me . . . my search for hope. I'm feeling ever-so-slightly better these days. Things look a little brighter to me, at least. So I haven't felt quite the need to write about it as much lately. 

But I'm still always on the lookout, y'know? 
And I found some to share with you.

It's a book.

52578294

And I think a lot of you might really like it!

When I first started reading this new novel by Jane Smiley, I was skeptical. Talking animals? Really? Although I adored talking animals in books as a child, they just don’t have the same appeal for me now that I’m a grown up. (Besides, there’s always that nagging worry that something bad will happen to the animals. And I can’t bear that.*) But I swallowed hard and plunged in --  suspending my disbelief -- and I quickly fell head over heels for Paras, Frida, Raoul, Kurt, Nancy, and Sid.

Turns out that Perestroika in Paris is actually . . . Charlotte’s Web for grown ups (except it won't make you cry).

This delightful and utterly charming novel is uplifting, lighthearted -- and just plain fun! It was refreshing to read a story where the motivations of all the characters are pure (both animals and humans - because there are humans in it, too) -- just what you’d wish for in the real world. A story of friendship, freedom, love, and loyalty, this book was a balm for my soul -- a bright spot in these dark times.

It gave me hope! 
And maybe it will give you some, too.

== 

Here's to a good week for all of us -- full of lightheared fun, pure motivations, and good books that give us hope!

==

*(Spoiler alert: Nothing bad happens to these animals!)



 

 


Hang On: Hope As Sacrifice

All week long I look for . . . 

IMG_1996

And then on Fridays, I report back.

==

"I'll be home for Christmas
    If only in my dreams"
        --- Johnny Mathis

By now, most of us are just sort of . . . resigned . . . to spending the holidays on our own. It's hard, sure. But I think we'll be able to gather again soon. And that gives me hope.

We just need to hang on a little bit longer!
(About three more months, as it turns out.)

As an Atlantic subscriber, I recieve a daily update in my inbox every evening. Last night's Atlantic update brought me Four December Don'ts - to help get us through the last weeks of this crappy year.

  1. Don't underestimate the current Covid surge. It's a nasty one -- and not going away yet. In fact, we're in record-breaking territory every day now. Deaths are currently 24% higher than they were at the peak of the outbreak last spring - and the numbers are not going down. Stay safe.
  2. Don't gather - wait until March. If we - and our loved ones - can stay healthy until spring, things will look much better. Vaccines will be rolling. Hospitals should be less crowded. Perhaps treatment protocols will have improved even more. The goal here should be to avoid contracting Covid entirely. (It's nasty business. It's a crap shoot. And no one knows yet what happens in the long term to those who DO contract it.)
  3. Don't self-isolate emotionally during end-of-year festivities. There are so many tech-tools we can use now to connect with our families and friends. Leverage their power! Set up or join in on Zoom calls. FaceTime with your friends. Use whatever tools you have available to connect!
  4. Don't skimp on holiday cheer. Get out your decorations. Turn on the twinkle lights. Play holiday music. Send cards. Bake cookies. It helps give us "anchor points" to holidays past -- and it triggers nostalgia and feelings of comfort. And that's what we need right now!

Bottom line?
Sometimes hope . . . looks like sacrifice.
(After all, if we had no hope, we wouldn't sacrifice for a future would we?)

"Hang on!
    Help is on its way."
        --- Little River Band

==

Best wishes for a weekend filled with peace and hope.

==

I've decided to take next week "off" here on the blog. I may pop in to wish you a Merry Christmas next Friday, but I don't plan to post otherwise. Have a great week -- and I'll see you again (I'm pretty sure) before the New Year.

 

 


A Shot In the Arm

All week long I look for . . . 

IMG_1751

And then on Fridays, I report back.

==

This week, most of us heard some good news that gave us hope: The vaccine is on the way! Sooner than we really could have hoped. And . . . bonus! . . . it looks like it will be very effective, too.

Of course, that good news . . . is tempered by the reality that it's going to take some time (actually . . . a rather significant amount of time) to get enough of us vaccinated to return our lives back to "normal" (whatever that even IS anymore). 

Still. This is Really Good News. Hope has arrived!

The trick now?
Waiting.

"Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on what we're waiting for."
                --- Charles Stanley

The New York Times published a little "tool" yesterday to help us determine our likely "place" in the vaccine line. (Click here to use it.) You just plug in some basic demographic information about yourself, and then it will spit back some figures about your spot in line.

For me, a healthy 61-year-old who isn't an essential worker . . . well. It's going to be awhile. It really IS going to be a long, cruel winter while I wait my turn. But I can take heart that my dad, a not-so-healthy almost-85-year-old who lives in an independent living apartment that is part of a large continuum-of-care facility . . . well . . . he's going to be at the front of the line. And that will relieve a lot of weight from my shoulders. He is isolated and bored -- and eager to get back to his morning "koffee-klatch," his twice-weekly poker games, and his Wii bowling league again! (Not to mention, of course, the reduced concern about a Covid outbreak in his facility.)

So.
Good news.
Hopeful news.
But let's get back to that waiting-patiently-through-the-long-cruel-winter part.
(Because for most of us? That's exactly what we're going to need to do.)

IMG_8083

We've come to . . . the hard part. We're tired. We're weary. We're Sick of This. If we hear the word "unprecendented" one more time we will scream. And now that we know the cavalry IS really coming, we want relief NOW. It's easy to feel like . . . we're in the clear now. We've got a solution. We're being rescued, see???? And, besides. . . holiday season.

But. Not yet.
We really DO need to get through this really rough patch ahead.
And, as you all know, we have to do it pretty much on our own. Because ain't nobody lookin' out for us, friends. (Or not yet, at least.)

The reality is that most of us will not - or cannot - just sit in our houses for 4-5 months while we wait for our turn in the vaccine line. What do we do? And how can we minimize our risk in a practical way while we wait? Today the New York Times "Daily Briefing" (which I receive every morning in my inbox as a NYT subscriber) published a 3-Step Guide to Risk Minimization based on a survey with 700 epidemiologists and discussions with experts. Here goes:

  1. There is one behavior you should eliminate WITHOUT exception: Spending time in a confined space (with those outside your immediate household) where anyone is unmasked. This means . . . don't eat indoors at a restaurant or at a friend's or family member's house. Period. Don't have close, unmasked conversations anywhere, even outside. If you're going to work, don't eat with other people. If you're flying, try not to eat or drink on the flight. In other words . . . don't take your mask off at all. (And I know this means with your family members who don't live with you. And I know this is Really Hard.)
  2. Minimize your time in indoor spaces EVEN with universal masking. This means . . . if you CAN work out at home instead of at the gym, DO IT. If you CAN work from home instead of "popping in," DO IT. If you CAN attend church services remotely instead of in person, DO IT. Even if masks are required and worn universally.
  3. The good news is that some activities are less risky than people fear. You can walk, run, or bike outdoors without a mask, for example. It's more important to maintain at least a 6-foot distance from others outside than it is to wear a mask. (Close outdoor conversations excluded; see #1) You can also feel okay about "quick errands" -- running to the grocery store, the pharmacy, or the post office, for example. Just minimize your time, wear a mask, keep your distance from others, and wash your hands as soon as you get back home.

The NYT briefing this morning also talked about creating a personal risk budget to manage your Covid exposure risk. Figure out what you NEED to do (grocery shopping, for example) and what you DON'T need to do (browsing at a book store, for example, or working out at the gym) so you can figure out if you CAN do something carefully (meeting a friend for an outdoor, socially-distanced walk -- with masks, for example). 

Bottom line . . . 
Sometimes HOPE looks like a shot in the arm!

Be patient, my friends.
We're so close.
Hang in there.
And be smart!

==

My best wishes to all of you . . . for a weekend filled with peace and hope. And something fun . . . with appropriate risk-management, of course.

 

 

 

 


Rekindling the Inner Fire

All week long I look for . . . 

IMG_0929

And then on Fridays, I report back.

==

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”
                – Albert Schweitzer

I'm an introvert. Which doesn't mean I'm shy or retiring (because I'm neither). And it doesn't mean I don't like people (because I do). Or parties and social gatherings (because I enjoy those, too). It just means that I get my energy from spending time on my own; I need to recharge - I like to recharge - all by myself. As fun as parties and social events are, well . . . they wear me out. And after time "peopling," I really need some down time with my knitting or my paintbrushes or a book . . . and a glass of wine.

As my sister (also an introvert) likes to say, "We are built for a pandemic lockdown."  Yep. Able to withstand limited contact and alone-time with minimal discomfort. Plenty of books and hobbies on hand to last for a good long time. Techology to reach out when we want to reach out. But really not getting that itch to go to a party or any other social gathering that might risk our health, y'know?

But recently, I've discovered that my introvert-ness has a limit. And I'm there. I find, after nearly 9 months of connecting with my friends via FaceTime and Zoom happy hours and online-whatever-you-haves, I'm missing . . . 

community
connections
PEOPLE, in general
seeing and spending real time with my friends

(And my family, too - but that's a whole other kind of missing.)

This longing for community, for my friends, seems especially hard right now -- as we head into what will surely be a long, dark winter. Five more months of being cooped up inside (even though I do have plenty of diversions inside with me) until it's warm enough to meet in the park again for lunch at a picnic table? Five more months of meet-ups and "parties" and happy hours on Zoom (even though I'm grateful for technology that allows this kind of connection) until maybe the vaccine is available? It just feels really bleak right now. And where is the HOPE in that?

So you might say I was at a low spot.
My inner fire was definitely diminished.

And then, something happened.

IMG_1514

I got a note from a friend!

A really wonderful note.
The kind that warms you up and brings a smile and . . . makes you shed a tear or two.

This note bolstered my spirit and . . . gave me hope!
That we will get through this.
That we will get together again.
That we are friends.
That we remain connected.

I discovered that it's actually pretty simple . . . for a friend to rekindle your inner spirit when your inner fire goes out.

Just words.
Just a note.
A simple, heartfelt note.

This week I decided to start writing my own notes to friends. I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and start trying to spread some hope out there among my friends.

Maybe those notes will hit at a low spot . . . when the inner fire has gone out.
Maybe I'll be able to rekindle some inner spirits with my words.
I think it's worth a try!

==

My best wishes to all of you . . . for a weekend filled with peace and solace, time to rest -- and things that rekindle your inner spirit.

 


When Hope Looks Like Gratitude

All week long I look for . . . 

IMG_1378

And on Fridays I report back!

==

"When you can't be grateful for everything, be grateful for something."
        --- Anne McOmber

IMG_1428 2

Thanksgiving is coming. And I love Thanksgiving! It's my favorite holiday, hands down. Food. Family. Grateful hearts. Plenty of tradition - but without the weight and hype of Christmas. Mainly, I love cooking and sharing a big meal with people I love.

Tom and I have been trying to figure out a way to make our usual Thanksgiving "work" . . . in a pandemic. Erin's plans to join us this year were, of course, disrupted months ago. But we were hoping to salvage the feast for those of us geographically closer - Brian and Lauren and my dad. We had come up with all kinds of ideas. 

Maybe we could eat in the dining room with the windows open and an oscillating fan going?
Or maybe we could bring the table out to the garage, open the door, and invite Mr. Heater?
Or maybe the weather will cooperate and we could eat on the patio?

So many ideas. And none of them very appealing. Especially against the backdrop of exploding Covid numbers here in Michigan -- and especially so in our part of the state, which is being hit particularly hard right now. With no coordinated plan in place (anywhere, as far as I can tell), we all need to take care of ourselves and make the best decisions for our families.

With heavy hearts, Tom and I have decided to cancel any attempt at an in-person Thanksgiving gathering this year. (Sorry, Mr. Heater.) We're still planning to cook the same meal we always cook -- just a day earlier. Then we'll pack up the meal and deliver it to Brian and Lauren and to my dad. We're planing a whole-family Zoom to celebrate. It'll be weird. And different. And a little sad. But we have a plan!

So, where's the hope in that, huh????

Well. There is hope . . . in gratitude.

My family remains healthy - and we all want to keep it that way for each other.
Being apart for Thanksgiving doesn't change our love for each other.
We are resilient and willing to adapt our traditions for the times.
We have enough and more.

"He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has."
            --- Epictetus

==

I know the coming holiday season is going to be different and difficult and sad for many of us. I'm interested in ways you and your family are going to celebrate the holidays this year -- maybe sharing our ideas for how we can connect while celebrating remotely. I've been doing a lot of brainstorming myself, and I think it might be inspiring for us to share our ideas. 

What do you think? Let's share our ideas! How can we make the holidays . . . feel more like the holidays . . . in this pandemic season? I'll pull together a post based on your responses.

Let's find hope together!

==

My best wishes to all of you . . . for a weekend filled with peace and solace, time to rest -- and things that bring you joy.
And gratitude.

 

 


On Muscle Memory . . . and Hope

All week long, I look for . . . 

IMG_1378

and on Fridays, I report back.

==

Hope, like every virtue, is a choice that becomes a habit that becomes spiritual muscle memory. It’s a renewable resource for moving through life as it is, not as we wish it to be.”
                –
Krista Tippett

I read the quote (above) from Krista Tippett early this week, and it's been hanging there in my head ever since.

Hope.
Muscle memory.

I don't know that I would ever have put those two terms next to each other.
But now I do!

When I think about "muscle memory" I think about all those things I just do automatically, but that were hard for me at one time.

Tying my shoes.
Executing the long-tail cast-on.
Threading my sewing machine.
Moving through a vinyasa.
French braiding hair.
Doing a dead lift.

But with enough repetition and practice, I can do any of those things without even thinking about it now.

Perhaps it's that way with hope, too?

These days, feelings of hope and feelings of no-hope-at-all swing wildly in my psyche. And yet . . . I still go through the automatic actions of someone who is full of hope for the future.

I plant bulbs in my garden.
(Hoping for a future spring that is thick with daffodils!)

IMG_1371

I work out every day.
(Hoping for that day 20-some years in the future when I can pick myself up after a fall!)

IMG_1374

I wind yarn.
(And dream of the sweater that will keep me warm and cozy at some point in the future!)

IMG_1372

Just going through the motions  . . . of hope.

It turns out that even when there are . . . things, situations, people . . . who challenge my hope-filled nature, I know that down deep, I've still got hope. It's there. Even when I don't think about it.

It's my spiritual muscle memory at work!

==

My best wishes to all of you . . . for a weekend filled with peace and solace, time to rest -- and things that bring you joy.

Hang in there.
Try to find some time to let your spiritual muscle memory do its thing.

==

PS -- Just in case you're having severe anxiety about the election, I wanted to pass along this link to an article that came out yesterday in The Atlantic. A good reminder . . . that 2020 is not 2016. It gave me a little . . . hope. (At least for a mintue.) Maybe it will give you some, too.

 


A Refreshing Reset: Who Doesn't Need That?

All week long I look for . . . 

IMG_1252

And on Fridays, I report back.

==

On my quest to find hope, sometimes I find that hope . . . finds me.

A couple of weeks ago, an article in The New Yorker caught my eye. (This one.) I mean, the headline was just right up my alley, including intriguing phrases like "provocative botanical sculptures" and "flower punk." How could I resist? I skimmed quickly. . . but didn't fully read the article. It was about a documentary. And there was a 30 minute film involved. And who has time for that kind of thing in the middle of the day? (. . . she said as she scrolled through Instagram and then picked up Animal Crossings. . . )

So I bookmarked the article and moved on, planning to come back to it at some point.
But I didn't.
I forgot all about it . . . 

until last Sunday morning, when it showed up again in a "digest" post from The New Yorker. 

This time, I did read the article. And then I sat down and watched the 30-minute documentary. And then I watched it again.

Because, my friends, this documentary?  It's . . . HOPE.
And it found me!

The documentary, called Flower Punk, was created by filmmaker Alison Klayman. And as The New Yorker article claims, it is "delightful, and unexpectedly moving." Alison Klayman actually shot this film as a break from a full-length documentary she was working on about Steve Bannon and politics and breaking news. She said her work on Flower Punk provided "a refreshing reset" for her, and enabled her to be "surrounded by and contemplating beauty" after all that darkness (that is Steve Bannon).

If creating this film provided a "refreshing reset" for Alison Klayman in that situation, imagine what watching it might do for you!

I found so much hope and beauty in this short film. For me, it is the perfect intersection of art, the magic of flowers, passion, and growth. And isn't that hope, in a nutshell?

I don't expect you to sit and watch this film right now (because 30 minutes), but I do encourage you to watch it at some point in the next few days. Maybe the next time you feel like picking up your phone to check the news or a social media feed (or that damn Animal Crossings game), watch this instead.

Let hope find you.
Give yourself a refreshing reset!

==

My best wishes to all of you . . . for a weekend filled with peace and solace, time to rest -- and things that bring you joy. (And - definitely - time to watch this incredible film.)

 


Keep Moving

All week long, I look for . . . 

IMG_1095

And then on Fridays? I report back!

==

A while back now, a couple of years ago or so (still deep in the Before Times, for sure), I stumbled onto Maggie Smith's Instagram feed. Every day back then, she was posting a short inspirational "reminder" to herself to . . . keep moving. It turns out she was going through a divorce, and her life was in total upheaval and nothing felt right for her anymore. So she started writing notes to herself each day (she calls them affirmations, encouragements, self-directives, goals) and posting them on social media. The words at the end of each of these notes to herself? Keep Moving.

I looked forward to seeing Maggie's daily posts. Her "notes-to-self" were much more than advice to someone grieving a marriage and trying to figure out how to keep moving through that slog. Her notes were absolutely universal -- encouraging anyone, all of us, to keep moving whenever we are stuck or alone or worn out or going through our own transformations. (And this was back in the Before Times! Remember . . . we used to feel stuck even before the pandemic.) (I forget this sometimes.)

I started taking screen shots of Maggie's Instagram posts to save for myself. I created a little "album" in my phone to store them, so I could dip in and re-read them for a little shot of inspiration whenever I needed one. I shared a lot of them with my daughter, who was working through something at the time. I shared them with friends. And then the pandemic came, and Maggie's notes took on a whole new level of meaning and motivation for me, as I really needed a reminder to . . . keep moving.

I planned to create some sort of journal or "book" for myself full of Maggie's reminders, eventually. But then . . . I didn't have to!

IMG_1096

Because Maggie's daily notes became so universally inspirational (turns out I wasn't the only one screen-shotting them every day), she was ultimately able to collect them up and publish them in a book!

The book - Keep Moving - came out earlier this month, a couple of weeks ago. It's the kind of book that you can sit down and read in one sitting (if you have an hour). It's also the kind of book you can just . . . open up randomly and find a just-right inspiration for that moment (which is how I usually read poetry books, by the way).

Keep Moving . . . is all about hope! There is hope on every single page! Here is what Maggie has to say about hope in one of her opening essays . . . 

"I began writing a goal for myself each day, even when I was struggling and optimism felt less than natural. What kept me going was the idea that hope begets hope, and that practicing hope and courage on a daily basis might help me arrive at that better place. Yes, there is an element of fake it until you make it to being hopeful in a time of crisis. But why not? Perhaps when we try hope on for size, it may not fit at first -- it may hang on us, several sizes too big -- but if we keep wearing it, we will grow into it."
--- Maggie Smith, Keep Moving

Hope begets hope.

Fake it until you make it.

If we keep wearing it, we will grow into it.

Yes. That's it, really, isn't it? Do you want to peek inside with me?

IMG_1097

IMG_1098

IMG_1099

Here are some concluding words about hope from Maggie in one of her final essays . . . 

"Today I think of myself as a 'recovering pessimist.' I know that optimism is not at odds with wisdom. It's quite the opposite. I think of cynicism as cool but lazy, while hope is desperately uncool -- it has sweaty palms and an earnest smile on its face. What I know to be true is that one hopeful person will accomplish more than a hundred cynics. Why? Because the hopeful person will try."
--- Maggie Smith, Keep Moving

In these disturbing days, let's not give up on hope, my friends.

Let's even be desperately uncool about it.
Faking it until we make it.

Keep moving!

==

My best wishes to all of you . . . for a weekend filled with peace and solace, time to rest -- and things that bring you joy. (And maybe some poetry, too.)

And - hey! You don't think I could leave this post without sharing a Maggie Smith poem, do you???

==

FUTURE

What is the future?

Everything that hasn't happened yet, the future
is tomorrow and next year and when you're old
but also in a minute or two, when I'm through
answering. The future is nothing I imagined
as a child: no jet packs, no conveyor-belt sidewalks,
no bell-jarred cities at the bottom of the sea.
The trick of the future is that it's empty,
a cup before you pour the water. The future
is a waiting cup, and for all it knows, you'll fill it
with milk instead. You're thirsty. Every minute
carries you forward, conveys you, into a space
you fill. I mean the future will be full of you.
It's one step beyond the step you're taking now.
What you'll say next until you say it.

Maggie Smith

==

Today's poem was published in Good Bones by Maggie Smith, 2017, Tupelo Press. (It also appears in Keep Moving by Maggie Smith, 2020, Simon & Schuster, Inc. Information about the poet can be found here

 


Trying to Speak

All week long, I look for  . . . 

IMG_0810

and then on Fridays?
I report back!

==

This week I've been thinking a lot about what I mean, exactly, when I say I'm looking for . . . hope.

I know what hope means, the technical definition and all. And I have a sense of what I'm looking for. But it's so hard to articulate. Hope -  as a concept - is hard to pin down. It's not just optimism (too simple) -- it's much more obscure; it's fleeting. It's a deeper . . . something. It's one of those I'll-know-it-when-I-see-it (or feel it) kind of things.

So.
Well.
I didn't come up with a clear and succinct way to explain it. But I do know that I can look to the words of poets to help me express what I mean; to describe hope to me in a way I can feel in my heart; that we can all feel in our souls. Who better than poets . . . to give us the words that lift us up; that speak to the universal importance of hope and resilience?

So I've decided to just stop trying to define or explain it myself . . . and just offer you a poem of hope from another of my favorite poets, Lisel Mueller, instead.

==

IMG_0974

Hope
Lisel Mueller

It hovers in dark corner
before the lights are turned on, 
   it shakes sleep from its eyes
   and drops from mushroom gills,
      it explodes in the starry heads
      of dandelions turned sages,
         it sticks to the wings of green angels
         that sail from the tops of maples.

It sprouts in each occluded eye
of the many-eyed potato,
   it lives in each earthworm segment
   surviving cruelty,
      it is the motion that runs
      from the eyes to the tail of a dog,
         it is the mouth that inflates the lungs
         of the child that has just been born.

It is the singular gift
we can not destroy in ourselves,
the arguement that refutes death,
the genius that invents the future,
all we know of God.

It is the serum which makes us swear
not to betray one another;
it is in this poem, trying to speak.

==

My best wishes to all of you . . . for a weekend filled with peace and solace, time to rest -- and things that bring you joy. (And maybe some poetry, too.) 

Don't forget to look for hope.
(It's out there, trying to speak.)

==

Today's poem was published in Alive Together: New and Selected Poems by Lisel Mueller, 1996, Louisiana State University Press.  Information about the poet can be found here