Category: hopes

sand between the toes

April 24th, 2009 — 6:59pm

Happy Friday. Here’s hoping for a good, relaxing weekend.

picture of shifting tides over my feet

Pics from our trip to Carlsbad, CA in March

3 comments » | hopes, pictures, the great outdoors

forty-fourth, and first

January 20th, 2009 — 10:37pm

Let’s hear it for good speeches that get me hopeful and excited for the future of our country. The pundits can say what they will about President Obama’s inaugural address, but as for me, I loved it.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.  We are the keepers of this legacy.

So? I’m an idealist. I like speeches that promise integrity, temperance, and tenacity. I like to believe that President Obama speaks with complete earnestness when he says, “On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.” I think he’s telling the truth. Or… at least I have high hopes that he is.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.

I can’t deny that there’s definitely a cynical vein that runs through me. I understand the tendency towards cynicism. It’s true that politicians—yes, even our sparkling new president—will make mistakes and may likely break some promises. But I’ve decided recently that this elevating feeling of hope is far more productive than cynicism, even if the cynics ARE right some of the time, even if I am left disappointed in those moments. I’ve decided to not base my hope in faulty humans, but rather in a belief that we have a greater potential that requires some shade of idealism to be realized. I think this hope is a better choice.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.

So I’m sorry if this post makes you roll your eyes. At a different time, it probably would’ve made me roll my eyes too. But for now, I feel happy and hopeful. I feel grateful to be a part of this America.

The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.


2 comments » | hopes, politics, quotes

free indeed

January 8th, 2009 — 2:09pm

It is feelings like this that I most want to hold on to but am least able to maintain. Feelings like this are the most fleeting.

It’s a feeling born of the warm, persistent press of the sunlight on my skin despite the chill in the air; the crunching snow underfoot as the sun stakes out its place in the sky; the lilting song of birds and the strong scent of evergreen pouring from a towering fir tree. Such a giant of a tree—it’s a wonder that it has escaped my attention until now. I stop and gaze up and can’t even see the top.

And suddenly, or not-so-suddenly, I’m filled with peace and clarity. I feel realistically optimistic about the future. (Realistically optimistic? It’s amazing that such a feeling exists.) I can clearly see a path laid out in front of me. And what’s more, I don’t feel afraid to start walking down it.

The thing is, I’ve had these fantastically exultant moments before… and so I know that they pass. They pass, and I’m left with life-as-usual once again, trudging through the problems of the day (most of which are problems of my own making). My view of the road ahead becomes obscured again with my doubts, my second-guesses, my mistakes.

But I’m not pointing this out to be a pessimist. Not this time, anyway. I’m pointing this out because this time, I think I understand this feeling better.

Thank goodness for these moments of clarity, these times when the world feels so full of lighted windows and open doors. These moments are exactly the kick in the pants that I need to continue on even when the world turns dark again. The feeling may be gone, but the memory that I had it remains. There’s a “white ring of mineral ash left after the water has boiled away,”* which serves as a real reminder that hope can be constant even while my feelings vacillate between contentment and desperation.

You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief,
But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.
-Kahlil Gibran

So for now, I get it. I recognize it may not be as easy for me to grasp next week, or maybe even tomorrow. But for now, I get it, and I’m holding on.

*another quote from Louise Erdrich’s Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse

1 comment » | books, hopes, quotes, the great outdoors, what's inside

to do

December 11th, 2008 — 1:04pm

Before I die, I hope I…

…knit a scarf. I hate to admit it, but I have yet to finish any knitting project I have begun. It’s shameful. Even finishing a simple scarf would be commendable.

…experience midnight in broad daylight. The idea that there are places on the globe where the sun doesn’t set during the solstice is fascinating and irresistible to me. I want to be there for that.

…stare at the aurora borealis over my head. (I think I’ve got Alaska on my mind.)

…ride a horse at an insanely fast gallop across a big, wild, wide-open landscape. Movies make it look so exhilarating.

1 comment » | hopes, lists, pictures, quirks, the great outdoors, travels

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