There’s always something happening. Something threatening to pull us under.
Sometimes it is big enough or politically scary enough to warrant getting onto our news service. Where we can watch it through our shiny big screens and then turn away, horrified. Soundbytes of a few seconds aimed at providing the juiciest details, so that even children can grasp it all. But we can carry on breathing air, scented with the pine Christmas tree; we get up and move into another room. Guiltily move our thumbs across to the ‘off’ button. Get on with our pre-Christmas to do lists.
It’s overwhelming to think of the things that are always going on, somewhere in our world. When I contemplate the number of human beings that are being tortured, raped, imprisoned, separated forever from their loved ones, killed. I don’t want to stay with those thoughts. I don’t want to consider the reality of all that bad news. My mother heart feels it personally. Knows, that for the people inside those news stories, it won’t finish in time for the next headline. Their stories will go on to affect them and their families for generations. It’s a big and painful reality. Small wonder we choose not to watch. How fortunate we are that we get to choose not to, to postpone considering these harsh realities… until later, when we don’t have the small ones beside us, asking questions from those beautiful, wide-eyed faces. Not yet. I don’t want to explain all that to them yet.
In my own little world, I cling to the presence of a strange hope that is always there, tugging me upward. It is such a buoyant human trait. It is an odd thing, when we are all mortal, that we have developed this protection mechanism from the brutal truth. We are all subject to tragedy, suffering, loss. At some point in our lives, our exemption cards will run out and we will be visited by human heartache. It’s a guarantee. It might not reach the news. It might not be considered newsworthy. But that moment might carry the worth of our entire human experience, or those of our loved ones. In that moment when suffering comes to visit, the worthiness of our own story will be carried by us, or by our loved ones. In the fragility of our fragment of mortality.
I am always staggered by how hope renews itself, in the face of terrible odds. I remember, that movie with Harry Connick Junior and Sandra Bullock …not the storyline, but the title… ‘Hope Floats’, it has always stayed with me, that title. How true it is. We can be sinking in the quagmire, far from the light, drowning in despair. We can be pulled under by the terrible things that have been hitting the headlines. The realities of life with a progressive illness. The sadnesses and tragedies experienced by friends in our close circles this year, and the wider circles in our community, our country, our world. We can think about all those difficult things, and when we feel ourselves going under, we can grab hold of our flotation device and float back up to the surface. Our lungs fill with fresh air, our faces turning to the sunlight. We can believe that it is possible, all over again.
It’s not perfect. But sometimes I reckon hope might just be the best mechanism our human race has as we hurtle through time on this little blue planet. Hope is bigger than love, because it comes in when we love is lost to us. Hope is bigger than peace, because it makes it possible for wars to end. Hope is bigger than understanding, because we can’t always understand why people hurt people. Why people get sick. Why suffering happens. Hope keeps us afloat when our own humanity pulls us down into the depths. Peace, love and understanding are the tenets for a brighter future. But we will never reach them if we don’t allow ourselves to be buoyed up with hope.
Hang on to hope. Give it a chance. Let it pull you up from the depths.