Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Elusive hope & the L word

I feel like I've gotta stray from wonky politics right here and now - or in a minute - now that we're more than a week past New Year's and are already tending to forget about those resolutions we made. I resolved to learn about hope and to hope more effectively - meaning to turn hope into meaningful action. And that is proving to be much more of a workout than the sort of exercise you get at the gym.

As I said several times soon after starting this blog in mid-November, during the disheartening aftermath of the election, I've got these contradictory and mercurial strains of skepticism and hope - hey, it says so right there in that tag line right under "A Better Nation."

On November 23rd, I wrote that if nothing else, you were hopeful if you were passionate (though maybe there are such things as dysfunctional passions and healthy passions - another post?). Passion in and of itself can be a very valuable and nearly inalienable form of hope, especially if you EXPRESS your passions, especially if your passions are an integral part of your attitude and your AGENDA. But even our most basic and seemingly urgent passions can be vulnerable. They can be dashed. They can be worn thin. They can seem obsolete, naive, futile.

And certainly there are lots of us skeptics (and even dire cynics) who remain hopeful, somehow, for this beleaguered nation and for our own discord and dissatisfaction - meaning we're still passionate. But these days, in the blue-gray winter of our oh-so-sore discontent, there's a $40 million innauguration looming like a churlish coat tails charade, where Bush might again say to the tuxedoed and ball-gowned crowd, "Some call you the elite - I call you my base." And that's just the tip of the iceberg. It seems the Earth's crust and the wild weather lately are telling us something.

In the proverbial gray daze of such a winter, when it seems plenty of us have got more than a slight case of seasonal affective disorder, it's hard to hold onto hope or at least HOPE, ALL CAPS. We feel like curling up with littler and more intimate parts of our lives - like a warm bed or body, maybe the couch, a fireplace and a cup of something - let the world heal itself, swim or sink (the waves can get rough out there). Let the badgering ads and cablemongers, the bureaucrats, the corporate sheep, the manic multi-taskers and beltway politicos be damned - even though we're haunted by the notion that if we curl up in too tight a ball we'll be damned ourselves (or damn ourselves) for not fighting back (or wishfully caring enough) 24/7, 24/7, 24/7.

Well, none of us can fight 24/7, and sometimes it's high time for a rest, or high time to lay low, curl up with a quiet day, attractive words and voices, some graceful pasttime, a funny friend, a gentle love, a brisk walk outdoors, far from bills before Congress and bill collectors and billboards.

Sometimes, we eagle-eyed skeptics want to close our eyes or pull our vision back from the barking heads and headlines, pull back ever so gently into the adoring gaze of a lover.

This sort of movie moment, a private release, some of it in slow motion, in knowing glances and shared confidences, with a breeze blowing the curtains of an open window or looking out in silence to the snow, together or even alone, can be a proper and profound and priceless antidote to our political persuasions, to our anxiousness over the practical, to our regrets and loneliness, to our more wayward social adventures, to the traffic and the passing parade of jibberish.

We can be worldly wise looking to the far horizon, but we can be wonderfully alive when close to ourselves or close to friends or a special someone we care for, close to home or wherever we are. For a while, I'd been fixed on so much strife, overwhelmed by such complicated angst, both globally and internally, I'd let the beauty of this antidote slip my mind. I have been learning lately, sometimes the hard way, grinding down a gravel road toward Despair, that even in the throes of woe, there is always something to be passionate about - and passion to be hopeful for.

We need Desire.

And usually, it has to do with heart-to-hearts, quality time, laughter, glances, touches and whispers - with intimacy, with simple and sensual pleasures, solace, grace - and love - the elusive, rare and ever so precious ART of loving.


At 1/11/2005 9:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, "eagle-eyed sceptics" need love, too. Love is hope. Even the winter gray can't mask the flame in the fire and the sparks that fly between friends. RQ


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