Are you hopeful?

Photo by Torsten Dettlaff on

My doctor asked me this just a moment ago. “Are you hopeful about life?”

I had to pause before I replied. Hopeful? Not really. I mean, who could be, with half of Pakistan flooded, other countries suffering under water and fire and drought and general environmental destruction? Others under war or the threat of same, famine, disease? People wielding guns everywhere as if that was a normal way to behave? Men being absolutely intolerable to women? (I know, not ALL men)(not all people or countries, either, but you take my point, and I could argue that every country is suffering from environmental damage…)

And don’t get me started on the downfall of the United States, a once remarkable country, slipping into hatred, violence and fascism with barely a care as long as the stock market is strong…

It’s hard to think hopeful thoughts at times like these, even as Covid is stepping back into the forefront, polio is giggling in the wings, and we are all bracing for the next unfamiliar virus caused by living too close to too many diseased animals.

A few years ago my family and I bonded completely on the images – the combination of beautiful photography (as one could see on motivational posters everywhere) and a snarky message was irresistible. But then they seemed too close to truth, too true to be a joke. I recently returned to the site and found myself laughing again, but then I don’t want to think that way.

It’s just too easy to be sarcastic, angry, depressed. Everyone seems to be doing it these days, too, road raging over nothing, yelling at politicians, throwing hate on anyone that seems to have created a bit of shadow on one’s day. I suspect the pandemic did two things that we will have to recover from: first, we got stressed to the maximum, with no way to work it off, and second, we were left to our own devices too long and have forgotten how to be human. A good human, I mean. The human showing our good sides, the kind side, the side that wants to get along with and help others and our planet. Not the human showing our bad sides, our aggressive natures, our general willingness to believe ridiculous things, our lack of intelligence.

So how to force enough hope to make it worthwhile to get up and face the day? It isn’t easy – especially for we aging sorts who see our abilities shrink with each passing week.

But then, we tap in. We volunteer to help someone, or learn something new and exciting, or catch the view of the clouds massing on an end-of-summer day. And suddenly, from some dark corner, a little cricket song of joy seeps out. It is sustaining.

From “The Cricket in Times Square”, illustration by Garth Williams

And then of course the best things happen, like the DOJ gets more stuff on the former president that makes it sound like he might just be sent to jail, or some action by civilized people results in more provisions for the poorest among us or a restoration of faith in democracy, and the song gets stronger.

Maybe can turn this sinking ship around, get it to safe harbour before iceberg season. We only have ourselves to blame for the situation we’re in; we know we have the ability to fix it.

Yes, I have hope. I can hear myself arguing that I’m deluded, but I’m still clinging to the lifeboat.

4 thoughts on “Are you hopeful?

  1. Cheryl Brooks

    Nice piece DA. I think most of us struggle with retaining a little optimism these days. I can sure relate to everything you said! A buddhist teacher ( forget who) said that people’s thoughts and emotions naturally flow like the water in a stream winding its way down the mountain. We have to make the effort to buoy ourselves up a little against the. current.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. shewrite63

    Thank you for writing about this. I share the same feelings. I have been feeling overwhelmed with the news of people displaced by climate disasters and war – all while we are still in this pandemic. I am hopeful that the DOJ delivers iron clad proof enough to lock up the Orange Menace.

    I recently listened to a CBC Q interview with musician Courtney Barnett who had also struggled with hope over the past few years. I had not heard of her but I appreciated one song she wrote and performed; it helped me commiserate and relate “Write a list of things to look forward to”. I may seek out more of her music.


  3. bgdumbleton

    Well said DB.
    Rough waters (or no water) and some days the shore seems to be getting further away. Here’s hoping there’s enough lifeboats. Hang on.


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