“I always entertain great hopes.” Robert Frost
Yesterday was a beautiful day in Western New York. The temperature peaked at about 54 degrees and the winds were light. In the afternoon, the sun decided to show itself. With that, I decided to go for a bike ride. There is a nice trail near where I live. Despite the precautionary measures encouraged by State and local officials to stay home, there were many people on the path. But from what I could tell, they appeared to be families walking together. There were also some rollerbladers and many cyclists, like myself.
On my ride I couldn’t help but feeling a sense of gratitude mixed with a guilty dose of privilege. I mean, I have a decent bike and a safe place to ride. I also have a home I share with my wife and now, two adult daughters. We are all fortunately employed and able to work from home. Basically, we have all we need and we have each other.
But I then turned my thoughts to those less fortunate. There are any number of people who do not have these things. Many are hanging on by their fingernails, hoping that this thing can clear up as soon as possible so that life can become less restrictive (because it may never be like it was BTV – before the virus).
When I got home, I saw a voicemail on my phone from a dear, old friend of mine. He lives alone and is basically isolated. When I returned the call, he said that he simply wanted to talk. My friend lives with anxiety so I am aware that the current crisis is of major concern to him. He also has a number of physical ailments that make life challenging for him.
We spoke for a while and he expressed concern about our current situation. I tried to reinforce the idea that it’s important to focus on today and not let oneself fall victim to the fear of the future. When we project into the future at times like this, there is a natural proclivity to go to that place of despair and gloom. Now don’t get me wrong. I fully realize that this is something that is unprecedented and many people will die. Businesses will not come back resulting in many individuals left without a livelihood. And some of us and our children will live with PTSD, which in itself has its own set of unfortunate consequences. But I have hope.
I remember my first 12-Step meeting like it was yesterday. I walked into that church fellowship hall under the influence – hopeless, but I heard a message that allowed me to walk out with a sense of hope. And I clung on to that hope for dear life.
And that’s what we need to do. Because right now, that’s all we have. Hope that lives can be saved. Hope that the businesses can rebound and people can get back to work. Hope that our kids can get the much-needed support that will be necessary to allow them to develop into healthy adults and that we, too, can be supported. And hope that maybe, just maybe, this world can be a better place. So, I’m going to hold on to hope like I did after that first 12-Step meeting. Because that’s all I have.