When Melanie Crutchfield asked me to join her and several other bloggers in initiating a blog relay for Hope, to coincide with the Olympics, I was all, “Oh HELL YEAH, I have so much to say about hope! I’m SO IN!!”
I immediately commenced with thinking of things that bring me hope, and this was my inner dialogue:
“I'LL TALK ABOUT BUTTERFLIES!! No... too predictable. I mean, they’re super-cool because they start out as disgusting, wriggling worms and then wrap themselves in grosso slime and webby stuff and somehow magically transform into this beautiful creature. Or an ugly-ass moth. Stupid moths are eating my tomatoes. Arrrrgh, butterflies are not hopeful; they’re too much like moths.
RAINBOWS! Rainbows are like the ultimate symbol of hope; they follow the rain, and they coincide with the return of the sun. Awwww, that’s so nice. Rainbows. I’ll talk about rainbows. Okay, so what do rainbows have to do with life? Quick! Think up a surprising yet fitting metaphor for rainbows and life that will blow the blogging community’s hair back!
Hmmm, what’s been happening lately? Well, a bunch of innocent people just got shot-up in a movie theater. Before that, someone opened-fire in a mall. And last year, right near where I live, some bastard shot a police officer in the face, killing her, after she pulled him over for a routine traffic stop. My step-brother died. That was six years ago, but it still REALLY pisses me off. Genocide. Human trafficking. Child slavery. Hunger. Our country’s hateful political climate. Rainbows can’t be compared with any of this stuff, but when I think of the state of the world, these are the topics that come to mind. Stupid rainbows; they’re a totally inept metaphor for any of the atrocities of life.
I’d better start thinking more positively. This is not the kind of self-talk that’s likely to generate an unforgettable post about hope. Oooh… Ikea!”
We had arrived at our destination, thereby jolting me from my grim reveries. So for about four hours of wandering around Ikea in an MDF-induced stupor, I forgot all about hope, other than the hope that I could take home a truck-load of junk from Ikea. Those Swedes can ROCK some poorly-constructed furniture. And I’m pretty sure Ikea covers the bunk bed-ladders with plexiglass purely for entertainment value – so we can laugh our asses off at our kids while their feet slip and slide as they desperately try to circumvent the invisible ‘NOPE’ that bars their course. The children don’t give up hope, even when they ought to.
Since the kids were having low-blood-sugar meltdowns by mid-afternoon, we decided to stop and get a snack of nutritious fruit from the Ikea cafeteria. When we found a table, we realized we were short a chair, nor were there any chairs in the vicinity, so I stood there looking confused, getting ready to heave my trademark giant sigh of annoyance, when I realized the guy at the table next to ours was giving up his chair so that we would have enough. Well, that was nice, I thought. By the way, the Ikea cafeteria didn’t have fruit so we bought a bevy of Swedish pastries instead and gorged ourselves with sugar.
Thank God our house is already furnished or we would have walked out of that place with two armoires and like sixteen end-tables. We mainly bought a few accessories for the kids’ rooms, a new duvet cover for our bed, a salad spinner, and a lazy Susan. Those last two items I’m ashamed to have gone without for ten years of marriage; it’s practically un-American.
On the way home from Ikea while I continued the mulling process about hope, making myself more and more depressed about the state of the world to the point of sincerely contemplating the possibility that the Mayans were right, those pessimistic bastards, my husband, who was driving, suddenly said: “Hey, that’s nice!” I looked to where he was pointing and saw a cop changing a tire for a girl whose car had broken down on the side of the highway. Well, that was nice, I thought again. Changing tires is so not in a police officer’s job description.
And when the kids started to melt down again, we stopped at Chick-Fil-A (please note: I don’t give a crap if people are gay or not) to get some french fries for the kids (because why not just go ahead and shoot our nutrition all to hell for the day?). Marisol (age 2) was the most persistent with her hunger, so I handed her the box of fries first and told her to share with her brother. And I’ll be damned if she didn’t give him a fry first, even though I know she was super-hungry, and no one would have blamed her for stuffing her own face first and then handing a fry to her brother. And on top of that, my son said ‘thank you!’ Without provocation!
Well, that was nice… I’m not gonna lie; I teared up a little.
The next day, we had a date with some friends at the beach to hang out and let the kids play. I’m sure you’ve noticed, as I have, that as a society, we spend an inordinate amount of time complaining about idiot parents who are doing everything wrong; whose kids you recognize with sickening clairvoyance are on a path to gang-bangery or the life of a sociopath. But at the beach, watching how attentive the parents were with their kids, gently correcting or forcefully yelling, whichever the situation seemed to require, made me think of hope again. There is really some fantastic parenting happening out there. Maybe our kids won’t all kill each other off.
All right. So writing about hope is not a piece of cake like I thought it would be. Turns out I’m not much of an optimist. I think of the way I would like for things to be – everyone hashing out their differences with calm, respectful voices and reaching compromises that are equally displeasing to everyone (because that’s what compromise IS, people) and agreeing to disagree when necessary. Not killing each other over disagreements. Not killing each other, period. For all of us to give every ounce of our energy to our children, to raise them to be a positive force for good in society, to be tolerant of one another’s differences, but fearless enough to state their opinions.
These are my hopes. But anxiety is me. Fear is me. I see the terrible things that people do to one another and the horrific accidents that can change lives in an instant (I want my step-brother back). I live in trepidation of all the disasters that could befall my family. From the second I started thinking about hope, my thoughts were clouded with this fearful cynicism; but after contemplating the subject over these last few days, I see that my fears are merely the flip-side of my hopes; that one almost can’t exist without the other. My hopes are so desperate that the fear that they won’t be realized is burdensome and suffocating.
And for those of you who feel like you’ve given up hope, I‘d like you to consider this perspective: The intensity of your fear is only the inverse manifestation of the depth of your hope. I am hopeful. You are hopeful. And in walking through our fears and recognizing the little gems of hope that spring up in all things mundane ('that was nice'), maybe – I hope – we can change our little world for the better.
It’s no rainbow; but it’ll do.
Blog followers, what brings you hope?
Now, this is a relay for bloggers, so I have to pass the baton.
Here are the bloggers from whom I would like to see a post about hope (as Melanie says, no one will pierce you with a javelin if you don't write a post... but it would be nice, you know, in the spirit of the Olympics, if you did):
Girl's Gone Child
One Girl's Style
A Teachable Mom
Diary of a Mad Woman
I Want a Dumpster Baby
My Upside Down Life
Stream of the conscious
The Klonopin Chronicles
And here are the instructions:
Step 1: Write a blog post about hope & publish it on your blog.
Step 2: Invite one (or more!) bloggers to do the same.
Step 3: Link to the person who recruited you (me, in this case) at the top of the post, and the people you're recruiting at the bottom of the post.
Melanie Crutchfield will be holding "Closing Ceremonies" around August 10 and will gather up little snippets from people that wrote about hope, so make sure you link back to her as the originator of the relay.
Thanks for participating, and happy hoping!