Those Days Will Come
on hope and hopelessness
At the height of lockdown, when we weren’t going anywhere, doing anything, seeing other people, when there was yet to be a vaccine on the horizon, we wallowed in a sea of hopelessness. You could hear it in the tone of voices, in the words people put out there, you could just feel it. We had lost all hope.
A lot of us are still there, still wallowing, still feeling like we’re clinging to a piece of driftwood in the middle of the ocean, not a boat in sight. It’s ok to feel that way. It’s not good to feel that way, but it’s understandable, because of where we are. We are adrift and we’re waiting on someone - perhaps the government - to save us and we know deep in the back of our minds that’s probably not going to happen. We’re abandoned.
So where do we go from here? How do we live like this, how do we move forward when we are stuck in hopelessness mode, because being immersed in hopelessness is not sustainable. It’s not good for us. We are a nation in the throes of deep depression, a mental health crisis for the ages.
We had Christmas dinner yesterday, a very small, quiet gathering in place of a noisy, boisterous one. The difference from Christmases past was palpable, and at one point each of us commented on how it just felt like something was missing. Not only because we were missing people; it was a feeling that was missing. The joy of the season was tinged with the heaviness of the year. We were feeling off. Un-centered.
When I went to bed last night I started thinking about the day, the whole of this holiday season, and the year that’s almost behind us. I needed to find some joy, some light in the darkness. I needed to look ahead instead of behind. Rehashing the year or going over the sluggish Christmas Day in my head would serve no real purpose except to keep me awake and mired in sadness. So I thought about things to come.
The thing is, we have no idea what’s coming. We don’t know when the bulk of us will get vaccines. Late spring? Early summer? We don’t know when we will pull out of this and go back to a more “normal” life, one where people attend concerts and baseball games, one where we have large family gatherings without worry. But it will come. We will get there. We don’t know when school will be the same again, when all the offices will be open, when restaurants will be full again. But it will come. We will get there.
I have to have hope. I think of things that will happen regardless of where we are at with the pandemic. I think of winter passing by and spring finally getting here, of my hydrangeas blooming, of going for long walks in the neighborhood, buoyed by the warm air. Those days will come. I think of baseball. I don’t know if the games will be played with fans in the stands, but there will be games, there will be home runs and shut outs and mornings checking the standings. Those days will come. There will be the things we take for granted, things we should probably pay more attention to. Gorgeous sunsets, bare winter trees slowly transforming into leafy canopies. They will be there for us to take in and appreciate, for us to look at and think, life has its moments. Maybe you’ll feel hope as you admire nature’s gifts to us. Maybe your heart will soar and for a few moments you will feel at one with a world that at other times you think has surely abandoned you. Those days will be there. Grab them.
There will be birthdays and anniversaries and the hope that we will be able to celebrate them together once again. There will be weddings again, big events with cocktail hours and dancing and kissing relatives on the cheek. Those days will come. There will be barbecues, there will be picnics, there will be backyard parties and the sharing of food and drink. Those days will come.
I know it’s hard to think of those things now, they seem so far off and almost unattainable. It’s hard to have hope, to think that those days will come. But hope is all we have to cling to when we are surrounded by despair.
I am by nature a pessimistic person. I rarely engage in optimism, I tend to think in worst case scenarios, to dabble in despair rather than hope. But lying there in the dark on Christmas night, thinking about the things we didn’t have instead of all we did, I decided I needed to reach for hope. I needed to reach for gratefulness and thankfulness. And I needed to find things to look forward to, to treat the days and months ahead as fortunes yet untold instead of times of dread. Whether those things are as simple as hockey game on my television in January or a birthday celebration in my backyard in August, or as complicated as widespread vaccinations, we have to lean into them, let them guide us on this journey we are on. I don’t want another year to be defined by hopelessness. 2020 has been a dark place, and I want so desperately to find some light as we head into 2021.
I have to have hope. We have to have hope. We can’t spend another nine, ten months wallowing in our collective sadness, though that’s the easy thing to do, to just give in and drown. Look for the hope. Look for the light with me. Stare at every sunset, revel in the days getting longer, look forward to baseball or hockey, strengthen relationships, grab hold of the things that delight you. Hope for the best. There is good just around the corner. Those days will come.
[photo by me]