I used to be a lot less afraid.
To speak my mind, to share my voice, to write my truth, to say what I felt in my heart. I used to think my words, fervently expressed, might resonate with others. My heartfelt thoughts, my clear observations, my stubborn convictions…they just might help create a safe circle around some other humans who felt and thought the same way.
A circle of hope.
Now I’m not so sure. I feel uninspired, and that is putting it rather lightly. I search for beauty in small moments. I often feel things in nature, and I try to see the world through the rosy lens of hope, but it has become quite difficult to conjure much of it these days, no?
It’s not because I don’t want to.
It’s not because I’m not grateful.
It’s not because I haven’t tried.
Maybe it’s because I’m truly feeling the unbearable weight of winter. I’m feeling the weight of being inside, closed off, and stifled. I’m relentlessly banging on the bars of a cage that contains my emotions, my own breath, and my physical existence. I’m feeling the weight, period. And yes, winter lumbers on, but that’s a bit of a metaphor.
Other than work, I see very few people. The social butterfly forced into social distance loses her desire the flutter about from flower to flower, you see.
The occasional walk with a close friend certainly paints a bit of warm sun into my cold gray sky, but these moments are much too few and far between. It’s cold out there, you see.
And so I ask: What are we to be, what will we become, eventually, if we cannot continue to be hopeful human beings? If we are not searching for honesty and innocence and authentic connection every step of the way? If we are not excavating an ideal life for ourselves and others?
How can we live presently when doing so feels too rough for mere words?
One bright light is I know I am not alone. I know who my creative, kindred spirits are, and I know we will all get through this, one way or another. We will celebrate birthdays. We will fight cancer and get vaccinated. We will get married and have babies and send our kids to college. We will search for love and happiness. We will take care of our parents and go back to school. We will forge new paths because today we are allowed to look beyond today. We will all be very different, come what may, but yes, we will all get through this.
Because the opposite of dark, heavy weight is the unbreakable lightness of hope on the horizon.
We see it in the small green blade that pokes through a crack in the sidewalk. We see it when the sky is an endless periwinkle blue. We see it when someone smiles at us with their eyes. We hear hope through their laughter over something silly, something shared. We hear it in the melody of birds gently calling, and rivers rushing, and popcorn noisily popping.
We know hope when there is music in the air and our heads begin to bop. We smell it inside a cozy fire roaring on a Sunday afternoon. We smell it when there are brownies baking, or when there is something simmering in our crock pots, or when there is a little dab of perfume on our lover’s neck, put there just for us.
Each evening, we watch hope rise with the moon. We feel it when our emotions run amok, when we see a human face change on screen and we can suddenly relate. We know the same joy, the same pain, the same sorrow, the same triumph. We taste it when a perfect snowflake hits our tongue, when the cold air hits our nose and enters our lungs clean and fresh and wild, not contained inside our dirty, worn-out masks.
I used to be less afraid, because I carried a bushel of hope with me wherever I went. It was abundant “back then,” and, of course, like all good things, I took it for granted.
My empty basket needs to be filled once again. I want to feel less afraid to speak my mind, to share my truth, to walk my path. I want a circle of hope back, I suppose. I’ll help you remember how to smile, if you help me.
Spring has always been a time for renewal and lofty plans for change, but here’s a novel idea: why can’t we reinvent the spring itself? For me, instead of something different, I’d like to return to a time when I felt hopeful almost every step of the way.
If we release the negative thoughts, the boredom, and the monotonous trudging, we will surely release the weight of winter itself.
It’s never too early to shift the narrative, you see. Even with snow in the forecast.