—From CB—

A friend posted a Facebook note asking, “What gives you hope?” A worthy question when every day’s news brings a thousand little Hiroshimas of the heart. It elicited many responses, but I found myself unable to think of a thing.

I “hope” for many things. That someone will read my novels. That I’ll live painlessly till I die. That the world will become less murderous. That my wife and our children will have good lives. That the keepers of the broad human menagerie, both wild and domestic, will agree, at some point to allow them a better diet and call the vet as needed—maybe even widen the square footage of the cages.

But what gives me hope? Meaning, I suppose, what makes me optimistic about any particles of the future? Nada.

Of course I’m heartened by a moving story, the ocean, a flowering tree, a political poll, a disaster happening to the right person, a beautiful book, the classics, progressive courage, the love of my lifemate, our cats’ antics, the perpetual pulse of comedy. But for me, none of those come with a ten-year warranty.

That is, they don’t figure into the hope/despair teeter-totter. In my view, the world is way too unpredictable to place any bets, no matter what kinda inside dope I think I might have. Of course I do stuff “in hopes that” but not “with the hope that . . .”

I suppose that involves an emotional disengagement on one level, but for me it’s needful that I see the ocean, a face, my ballot, or that moving story not as “evidence” but in its own presence. Optimism and pessimism, for me, are both dead ends. I can’t control who’s on the other end of the teeter-totter; I can only climb onto the jungle gym and dangle through the maze till Miss Young blows the whistle.

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