On Hope

I just read (or reread) Maria Popova’s gorgeous treatment of Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark on brainpickings.org. Both are such brilliant writers. I love the way they resist simplification of a subject, which is a hard boundary to set.

You might find the essay brings you some comfort, reflection, or inspiration. (And Solnit’s book, which I’m now adding to my to-reread list, right after Women Who Run with the Wolves.) If you aren’t already in love with Brain Pickings, may you have time amid the chaos of now to fall head over heels with it.

For example, this reminder of Popova’s particularly resonated with me:

“With great care, Solnit — whose mind remains the sharpest instrument of nuance I’ve encountered — maps the uneven terrain of our grounds for hope:

It’s important to say what hope is not: it is not the belief that everything was, is, or will be fine. The evidence is all around us of tremendous suffering and tremendous destruction. The hope I’m interested in is about broad perspectives with specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act. It’s also not a sunny everything-is-getting-better narrative, though it may be a counter to the everything-is-getting-worse narrative. You could call it an account of complexities and uncertainties, with openings.”

Nuance could surely be one of our greatest weapons in the fight for hope, as fear relies on a reductive, myopic narrative just as much as pollyanna-ish delusion does.

I also savored this gift of a double quotation:

“Invoking James Baldwin’s famous proclamation that “not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced,” Solnit writes:

It’s important to emphasize that hope is only a beginning; it’s not a substitute for action, only a basis for it.”

Yes. Every bit of yes. So when we say that we hope to provide you with some comfort, some inspiration, some prompts to support your creative response to this actual pandemic, even yes a moment of hope or inner peace, please know that what we mean is we hope we can bolster your resolve to keep going, to hang in for five more minutes any way you can, beloved, and maybe to make something that someday people will see and say, “Yes. It was like that for me too.”

We hope you’ll have time to read the essay. But whether you do or not, consider taking a minute or more to respond to the question, what does hope mean to you? Use whatever creative form speaks to you at this moment – writing, art, photography, meditation, yoga, cooking, singing, dancing… The list goes on.

Be well, beloveds. 💜🌱

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