You get a rare evening off but fall asleep before you can do anything fun. Then you wake up in the morning at the beginning of a predictably rugged week with the beginnings of a headache.
Will it never end? Will nothing ever get easier? They used to tell me it would, when I was a kid. They lied. Now they even admit it was just to keep me going.
A morning like this--that's the time to think of the real reasons for hope. Because on mornings without the strain, the crying kids the headache or the harsh world news it's too easy to think of unicorns and rainbows with fluffy white clouds on both ends.
Those things don't last and we need something a lot more substantial than Wheaties to carry us through. That's why I'll take advantage of a heavy morning to write out the reasons for hope that still have some power at times like this.
It's an exercise I encourage you to try. Consider it to be one of the uses of adversity. Hard days have the potential to help you differentiate between fantasy and what truly gives you sustenance.
Here then are some of my "real reasons to hope" from one too many mornings:
- When technology goes berserk, it helps surprisingly often if you speak gently, reassure the device and give it one solid whack on a corner. It doesn't always work of course, but the times it does save a lot of headache.
- Even when I'm ready to strangle my kids, my hormones still work their magic. Even without the ties of genetics--I am ready to try again to be endlessly patient, once I have been out of their presence for at least six hours.
- After chemical spills and other ecological disasters, many natural ecosystems recover faster than scientists predict and the first plants to return are usually medicinal herbs. For example, while ocean corals are dying due to global warming, scientists have found that if temperatures are brought back under control, coral has a remarkable capacity to bounce back from near death experiences, if it is not entirely killed.
- I argue with my closest family members and we'll never agree on some things, but we always keep coming back, working through hurt feelings and continuing the relationship. It isn't a lack of conflict that makes a strong family. It is the coming back afterwards.
- Even though animals were once thought to be all about draconian survival of the fittest, scientists have found that compassion and empathy are integral to many species. It isn't that difficult to capture on film instances of an animal aiding another animal in distress, even an animal of a different species.
- No matter how many times I've been hurt or disappointed, I still feel everything intensely. I am still not numb.
- Despite all the hype about borders and ideologies, rural people from different countries can still understand one another without words. When I worked on a subsistence farm in Zimbabwe for a week, I didn't always know how they did things, but having grown up that way myself I did understand the values--the thrift, the work, the hard playing, the bonds that make family more than just about genes.
- If you cut an apple in half horizontally, it has a five-pointed star (or a magical pentacle) inside.
- I am never bored. I always have something necessary, useful, interesting, beautiful or helpful to do. I may have to do quite a few boring tasks but not for boring reasons.
- The earth turns. Everything in the universe makes a circle. Everything dies. But new life is always born, somewhere somehow. Life will out.