A New Year with a common greeting, Happy New Year. Important. Am finding more important, in terms of our self-well-being, two additional—not for replacement but for addition–two additional greetings, which cannot be said “down deep they are shallow.”
One is Peaceful New Year. The peace that doesn’t require absence of war or conflict, but is experienced in the soul, the Shalom, the “I’m gonna be okay no matter what.”
The other is Hopeful New Year. The following quote from Rebecca Solnit was shared by my wonderful friend, Dr. Bryan Austill. He and my Rabbi Guide are my partners when fly-fishing in Colorado. Bryan’s hats are a Methodist Minister and Clinical Psychologist. The three of us—Rabbi Guide would endorse this quote, I know—have a great time releasing trout after the catch. Another moment of hope and peace, but this quote brings me such deeper value…may it for you also!
Happy New Year.
Peaceful New Year.
Hopeful New Year.
A trilogy of value.
“Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes–you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and knowable, a alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand. We may not, in fact, know them afterward either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone.
But hope is not about what we expect. It is an embrace of the essential unknowability of the world, of the breaks with the present, the surprises. Or perhaps studying the record more carefully leads us to expect miracles – not when and where we expect them, but to expect to be astonished, to expect that we don’t know. And this is grounds to act.
Cause-and-effect assumes history marches forward, but history is not an army. It is a crab scuttling sideways, a drip of soft water wearing away stone, an earthquake breaking centuries of tension. Sometimes one person inspires a movement, or her words do decades later, sometimes a few passionate people change the world; sometimes they start a mass movement and millions do; sometimes those millions are stirred by the same outrage or the same ideal, and change comes upon us like a change of weather. All that these transformations have in common is that they begin in the imagination, in hope.”