Hope and Despondency

Today has not been a good day. Yesterday was not great either. Or the day before. In truth, this whole week has been surreal. Can the largest democracy in the West be crumbling? Once that notion was unthinkable. Now it seems it is terrifyingly possible. As Napoleon found out, winter should be about hibernation, not battles. Yet here we are, stumbling out of a holiday where some people risked their lives to cling to a tradition, defying reason and sense, and then they asked the doctors and nurses to do the impossible and save them from their choices. Last Wednesday, deluded people descended on the seat of government, and paramilitary groups used the naive to obscure their harsher intent.  

Winter holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah and the winter solstice are about hope. The Druid symbol of the evergreen tree, the return of the sun, made visible like magic, through the stone carved and constructed caves and temples that dot the Celtic lands and wherever their voyagers landed upon. Renewal. The new year. In the darkness, light.

Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone who paid attention this year had a lot of hope, but as predictable as this insurrection was, it was still a shock to see it played out in real time. The new videos and pictures coming out are worse than what was originally shown. Beneath the surface theatre, something much more threatening continues.

But still an event – sold to people, supported by collusion at the highest levels.

Meanwhile, the world struggles with the pandemic. The rush to find a vaccine suddenly has hit the roadblock of actually distributing it. Why is there no organization? Flu shots are given out in drugstores. Why not now? Why all of it.

I don’t feel hope. During all the minutes that suddenly stretch out, interminable, 15 seconds lasting as long as a month, the struggle has been to recognize the dawn of another day. That things can change. That there are good people out there. That not everything is disaster. Depression and reality can co-exist. I think. I’m not sure.

Where to go

I was thinking of moving. I miss quiet. Trees and birds. The ocean roaring over the rocks. Isolation in nature isn’t the same as withdrawal from society, avoiding people while surrounded by nothing but bricks and mortar, the nearly empty trains thundering past. But looking at possible apartments and houses is always a shock. The process of it all, the packing and the settling in, the never returning, the getting used to new things. The final realization that nothing is any better really than it was. Well, that’s not always strictly true.  But to change anything requires hope that things will change for the better. That a wish for change isn’t just a wish to break everything down and begin again. And again.

And I realized today that I have lost hope. There is a line from a favorite author of mine that says:

The moment when a woman realizes that she has nothing to live for – neither love, duty, purpose nor hope – holds for her the bitterness of death.

Would it help to look after a living being? Get a dog. A cat. I’m not sure my building would allow it, though with all the people that have moved away, you think they would allow almost anything.  And then, as with the apartments, I think of before. Maybe that’s it, I look back, and see how I hoped, and loved, and struggled, and…then this is the result. The very painful now. Or is it especially painful looking back, the clarity of those memories.

But like a sacred path, or any path really, including the one to the supermarket, one foot in front of the other. I think Churchill said something like the only way out is through.

The rollercoaster ride between rationality and imagination, reason and intuition. It’s all fine really. To imagine why anyone would want any more than any of this. To remember to be grateful.

Today is another day. And the weekend will end, and the week, with its round of manufactured crises and political games and meaningless bureaucratic tasks will begin again, and round and round we go. Nothing to look forward to except the hope that hope will return.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s better not to hope. Not to think of the future, and just think of now. And watch the winter afternoon drift towards sunset, and be grateful for all that is possible.

You missed the turning this time, and here’s another chance. Hopefully.