I’m gonna break character here and tell y’all something. Normally, I try to remain positive and affirmative and gentle, bordering on Pollyannaish, but some days I feel different, discordant … broken.
The something I want to tell you seems obvious to me. These are dark fucking times. You may quote me.
The news, honestly, breaks me often. The pain and suffering. The jingoism and economic imbalance. Pleas for money so our kids can fucking eat. Campaigns that say nothing of weight or promise and only attack with a ferocity that shears my soul.
I go on Facebook — the only social network I use, and shouldn’t but do — to see puppies and kittens and kids growing up and affirmations from that Nordby guy and C.S. Lewis quotes from my neighbor and people falling down and old friends and guitars. Instead, I get only bitterness from disgruntled “friends” and ads for things I don’t even know what they are and posting after posting of the tragedies around us.
You know what’s absent though? Others. A shit-ton of friends who’ve just given up on the whole thing are absent. Small businesses no longer notify me of the “open mic” nights, artists and old mates and musicians aren’t making the videos or telling the stories or showing me pictures of their works in progress. I miss that.
Also absent in the media that bombards us:
Remember back in ’08 when Obama ran on a platform of hope? All those yard signs and posters and bumper stickers with that “Hope” logo. Yeah, that was sweet. Now they’d look anachronistic and naïve, don’t you think? Imagine walking through your neighborhood and seeing one. You’d probably think, “What the fuck! Like, where is hope anymore, hell, what is hope anymore?” We seem a long way from those days.
But are we?
Darkness still brings out the light
Our local food bank recently moved from a church basement to a much larger and easier to manage former retail space. There they can work with more families and donating is much easier and, although there are more in need, more are donating. That sort of looks like hope to me.
Families, students and teachers from all across the globe are struggling and wrangling and blundering and, ultimately, succeeding in finding a way to educate and engage in this socially distanced era. All so a generation of kids can get an education. Wanting that for them sure seems like hope.
My own sons, 15-year-old twins, work incredibly hard at their schoolwork and their friendships. They chat and play games online at home and sit for hours masked and uncomfortable at school all day in hope of a better future.
Protesters want a more just and right future. This is hope.
People on both sides or in the middle (or wherever) truly want a better future, but for whom? Well, that’s to be determined but it’s important to see that almost everyone is looking forward to something. That’s hoping.
I see hope in the wave of an old friend, not seen for months, in the school parking lot. I see hope in the first soccer practice in months, in a high school orchestra spread all over a stage and auditorium so they can play together. I see it in free masks and smiling eyes at the grocery store, in the orange and rust mums planted on autumn porches. Whether we want to admit it, we do these things and so many more in hope of a better future.
I see a lot of folks, myself sometimes included, mired in fear because we see so much to be afraid of. A long litany would probably be effective here, but I’ll pass. Don’t even do it yourself. That’s what I’m trying to get at here: fear is darkness, light, hope.
Dark fucking times, right? Maybe not so much.
I truly wanted this piece to be edgy, rough and cutting, but I couldn’t do it. I fall back on hope, every damn time. I turn on the light of it, and the brighter hope shines, the darkness of fear cannot get a foothold, the shadows are too lit.
The Avett Brothers have a new song out called “Back Into the Light,” the chorus of which goes:
It’d make some sense, if some was made to me
Sometimes I don’t see love in anything
And just when I surrender to my shadow
I snap out of it, and step into the light
I step back into the light
It is easy these days to surrender to our shadows. Fearmongering, it seems, is a national pastime. So watch a parent with a baby and see that light. Watch a teacher in their classroom, virtual or not, and see that light. Look for candidates of compassion, leaders with values, and see the light surrounding them. Look into the eyes of your own children and there, just behind that glaze of confusion and fear, you will see the fiery spark of hope. I promise.
I am a Pollyanna after all, albeit one with resting bitch face.
About the author
Bill Peebles left a 30-year career in the restaurant business to become a stay-at-home dad to twin boys. He writes a blog, I Hope I Win a Toaster, that makes little sense. He coaches sometimes, volunteers at the schools, plays guitar, and is a damn good homemaker. He believes in hope, dreams, and love … but not computers.