The hope in light
It’s slightly hard to believe that we’re at the beginning of another year. Like most things over the past 10 months, this new year feels like no other new year before. For me, this year started out a bit ropy. Unlike some other years, it was hard for me to access that feeling of hope I generally get when starting something new. Maybe you experienced that too, what with covid numbers rising, restrictions increasing, ‘insurrections’ happening in Washington D.C. and cold, grey weather. Instead of something new, it actually felt like more of the same. And, clearly, I was ready for something different.
I suppose I’m lucky that I noticed quite quickly how negative I felt, and after taking stock (which included admitting how difficult it was for me to find anything positive to focus on) and speaking to other people, that negativity started to melt away. I felt more able to focus on creating my list for the year, setting my word for the year and diving back into work while I tried to get back into some semblance of a routine.
Again, perhaps luckily, I was eventually able to find my stride this year, though to be fair, so far it really doesn’t look much different from last year. I know that each day is a new day and that January 1st is a day just like December 19th is a day just like May 15th is a day. I know not to expect that things will feel different just because the date now ends with 2021 instead of 2020. Yet somewhere deep inside, I must have been yearning for something different. Not something different like a new strain of covid or people ‘breaking into’ the capitol; that kind of different, sadly, feels too much like more of the same.
So, while plodding on regardless, as that felt the only appropriate option to take, I kept my eyes and ears open for signs of hope that I was so desperately craving. I found these buds of hope in the small things – the crisp clear day that I could get out for a walk and not have to worry about breaking my neck because the path underfoot was so icy; the long overdue catch-ups with friends near and far; the recipe I found that gave me new ways to use the same old ingredients. A few weeks into the year, though, that hope I was craving in a big way finally appeared.
I hadn’t necessarily been excited for the inauguration of Joe Biden and I was probably harbouring some sort of fear that Donald Trump would just refuse to leave the building or something shockingly terrible would happen on the day. I also wasn’t able to watch the inauguration because I was working. When I finally got round to watching the highlight reels, I was mostly struck by just how tired I am of politics and politicians -- and rock stars! But I was also pleasantly surprised by the 22 year-old, African American with a sociology degree who had been asked to recite a poem she had written, “The Hill We Climb.” (I’m sure you will have seen it or heard about it, but if not, check it out here.)
I would describe myself as ‘not one for poetry.’ And yet, I seem to use it all the time. I love searching out poems to use at the end of my yoga classes. I use poems to bookend my writing workshops. And I was most definitely moved by this young woman’s recitation of her poem. I must have been drawn to it for the hope that seemed to pour from it. Not only in some of the words (“Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true, … that even as we hurt, we hoped…”) but also for the future. As I watched the clip, it occurred to me that there may yet be hope for the future.
The last book I read in 2020 was written by Jewel (Kilcher, the pop-now-country singer that I quite liked in the early 90’s). The book was called “Never Broken” and, if nothing else, it sent me back to her early work. This led me into 2021 with the song “Hands” from her second album, Spirit, running in a loop through my head. In particular, it was the lyrics, “…in the end, only kindness matters.” that played round and round. This had been getting me through the first few weeks of 2021, the idea that we are never broken – and in the end, only kindness matters. And then, after only a few weeks, I was re-inspired by a young African American woman, who, in front of millions of viewers and the about-to-be-President of the United States, ended her poem with: “For there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it. If only we're brave enough to be it.” I’ve written about being kind; I’ve written about being the love. And I can’t help but think those concepts can also be encapsulated by being the light.
There seems to be hope in kindness, in love and in light. There is something magical about the way sunflowers move so that they are always facing the sunlight. And that seems an appropriate metaphor for a way I can start this new year in hope. I can turn my face to the light. I can ask myself ‘where did I see light today?’ at the end of each day. I’m guessing some days that question will be more difficult to answer than on other days. But if, as the quote goes, “not every day is good, but there is good in every day”, then surely if not every day is bright, there will be light in every day? I don’t actually know, but this year, I’m willing to look for it. I’m willing to see it - out in the world and in myself. In that way, I am hopeful that my hope for the future will continue to grow. May we all find our way to our light this year and may we all be brave enough to be it.