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Hope Is

One of my very first friends always wanted to be one of two things, an artist or a pilot. Because we were raised in a small community, I was able to see him become a grown up and eventually, he studied film. I only saw one of his pieces, and I only remember one detail; a hand, scribbling in a circle with the word ‘hope’ below.  Shortly after, for reasons unknown or maybe I just forgot, he stopped making film and we stopped being close friends. I remember how talented he was, how I envied the ease with which he created. I resented him for giving up.

Last weekend, almost 6 years later, we reconnected over a mutual friend’s wedding. We drove together 6 hours to a mountain town and revisited our lives growing up, talked about our disappointments and our biggest dreams.

“I’m done doing what I’m doing,” he said as we drove over an aspen-speckled pass. “I’m going to make art again.”

He didn’t know at the time that it brought me to tears. He is one of the most talented creators I know, and somehow his decision reminded me about that hope scribble; a continuous madness almost that makes you keep going, a small belief in yourself that you are something more than just existing.

A mentor of mine who works with entrepreneurs often tells the story of asking a class of kindergarteners if they think they are good at art. The whole class usually raises their hands. As the children grow older, the question is repeated. Less than half raise their hands through high school and junior high. If you ask a class of adults, nobody raises their hand unless they are indeed getting paid to make art.

This story always makes me dig back into my own growing up. Sometime in most people’s life, they were told that they are not artists. Not allowed to create. Somehow, I dodged that bullet. My family has always been supportive of my random writer’s way. Maybe it’s because art runs in the family.

This has been the hardest year of my life. I know a lot of people say it and every year revisit it. But it’s true for me right now. I haven’t known if I can make my bills. I have been disappointed by unfilled promises. I am exhausted.  And I know I’m not the only one. But out there is that thread of hope that somehow keeps us going.

“I’ve been unlocked,” my father said, joyously over the phone. I am not sure how it happened, but after several years of unemployment, discrimination through ageism and and disappointment after disappointment, he has found a new passion. At the age of 60 he’s transitioned from the ugly world of finance to the the beautiful and rapidly growing world of loose-leaf tea. Two weeks after meeting someone randomly, he is in charge of one of the largest tea distributors in the state. Every day is new to him, lit with ideas, promises and optimism. When I ask him how it happened, he is still flabbergasted. “I just followed things I liked, believed in myself for once, and knew I could succeed.”

I know I am not allowed to give up. People in my life will not allow it. They won’t stop believing in me, encouraging me to reach my goals, achieve my dreams. Sometimes hope is just a scribble on a paper that you tuck away in a journal and forget about, but it’s still there, every day, looping around in your mind, again and again, telling you you can do it. Like my friend who is revisitng his artist side and my inspirational father, I’m constantly blessed by people and things that give me a little hope to keep going and make my life beautiful.

Hope is your friend who makes you dinner and serves you their best wine, unknowing that your fridge is bare until next week.

Hope is hopping on your bike like a trusty steed, riding up the highest hill, just to fly down it.

Hope is believing that you’ll walk again.

Hope is lying on the grass, looking at the sky, watching sparrows dip and swoop.

Hope is a note from another writer that says: “{{hug}} Take this pen, our love, go out there and BE SOMEBODY”

Hope is making art and sharing it, because the scribble doesn’t stop, no matter how far you push it from you.


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