The City That Raised Me - Losing Hope
No one ever makes a movie about the boy with dreams, ideas and ambition to change the world, who ends up a failed, jaded, bitter man. Or makes a romantic comedy about a girl with wide eyed hopes of love conquering the ugly forces that oppose it, only to try again and again, until, despairing, winds up a shattered, angry shell of that original dreamer.
Despite the gloomy theme of those tales, aren’t they often the story of you and me?
Have we become a population used to losing heart? Both of those characters end up feeling abandoned by those very dreams that used to give them life. The lives we watch on the screens that awaken that ache inside for something more, seem to be just what they are—fiction.
The disappointment settles in, moving across our real-life cities like a cold, lingering morning fog.
We try to climb above it, building homes out of positive thinking, gratitude journals, accomplishments, or any other suggested cure. The more we build, the deeper we seem to sink. When these remedies start to fail, anxiety kicks in. “This is supposed to work!!”
So we thrash, kicking frantically to get a lung-full of fresh air. To rise above the fake. Above being manipulated, used. Above the temporary highs. We grasp, or we give up.
The accumulation of event after event that we do not like and do not understand erodes our confidence that we are part of something grand.
“We ARE losing heart. All of us. Daily. It’s the single most unifying quality shared by the human race on the planet at this time. We are losing—or we have already lost—heart.” —John Eldredge
Where does fresh air come from?
I’m no Zen master but I’m a hope-warrior convinced that the remedy stems from not just an appreciation of good things, but a STUDY of beauty. A participation in it. See, I believe the world is good. InherentIy. Naturally, without any input. A silent, dazzling night sky whispers it. The Iguazu waterfalls, unparalleled in beauty, thundering onto the amazon floor affirms it.
Humanity even participates in its goodness. Listen to Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’, or Miles Davis’ ‘So What’ and tell me something beautiful doesn’t awaken the good out of a soul. Eat a perfect meal with an encyclopedic array of flavors. Contemplate ‘Starry Night’ by Van Gogh or a piece of literature like Dante. The world is good. It always has been; and will continue to be.
The presence of evil, vice and disappointment is not a force in direct opposition to good, but is the absence of where good ought to have been.
Where there is a despair, anger, envy and all of the damaging ripples that extend as a result of those, it is because there was a lack of hope, commitment, love or gratitude. For every evil, there is a good that is missing. Just as dark is not a force in opposition to light, but merely an absence of it, so is there potential for good in every person, every relationship, every business, every government.
When one has become convinced of the good of life, this is where the battle begins. Goodness and beauty need warriors to fight for it. This is a battle waged in the families, coffee shops and workplaces around the world. You will be the minority. Every day despair, resentment, and bitterness will make attacks, not just against you, but against those you love and are responsible for. Be wary of where the attacks will come from. Social media feeds, the news, pessimistic co-workers. Guard your mind. Remind it: the world is good.
This is far from putting on rose-tinted glasses, pretending that things are pretty. It is a deep descent into the reality of things to pull forth their inherent, already existing goodness. We can do this with a perfectly crafted cup of coffee just the same as we can with a living, breathing person. There is good there. Find it. Believe in it. Fight for it. Enjoy it without feeling the need to possess it.
“In addition to honesty and decency you need courage and strength. You need not only the virtues that teach you to refrain from wrongdoing, but the virtues that teach you positively and aggressively to do right. ….That is the man who will keep his eyes on the stars, and yet not forget that in this world of ours he must have his feet on the ground.” —Theodore Roosevelt