Dear Hope Nation,
I’m alone in a Zoom room right now. More accurately, I’m with myself in a Zoom room right now. Most accurately, I’m sitting in a chair in my loft, waiting for people to appear in a meeting that was scheduled to begin 40 minutes ago. Because I wanted to have a smoke, but didn’t want to miss the nobody who has come so far, I joined the Zoom room on my phone, making two boxes of Keith in an empty room and went to the porch to smoke a cigarette. Back in my loft with two cameras on me, two slices of me laid out on the screen, I’ve started to interview myself.
Phone Keith (shot from below, showing the typing hands, and therefore obviously a reporter of some kind): What exactly is Hope?
Computer Keith (shot straight on, hair looking as good as it’s ever going to): That depends. With a lower-case aitch, hope is the fuel that powers all human achievement, from starting a fire to writing a novel to curing a disease. It’s the notion that if we keep on trying, making infinitesimal changes to our efforts, things will get better. That lower-case hope is the secret of life. With a capital letter, Hope is a recovery community in Manchester, a place where folks who want to escape the fetters of addiction can learn how to live as free men and women. While the physical Hope building is closed right now, the community exists and will thrive. Just as a church is not the building where a congregation meets, but the body of people who made the building necessary, Hope is not a physical location but a metaphysical one. Or so I hope.
Phone Keith: Words, words, words. Those are a lot of fine-sounding syllables, but please answer the question. What is Hope for New Hampshire Recovery?
Computer Keith: Oh, that’s easy. Hope for New Hampshire Recovery is a 501(c)3 organization whose mission is helping people find, maintain and strengthen their recovery from drug and alcohol misuse. But you spoke of words—the preceding sentence is just words, a description having no real relationship to the thing being described. A cup can be defined—“an open-top container for holding or pouring liquids”—without telling us anything at all. A cup filled with blood is different from a cup filled with wine and further still from a cup filled with hemlock. The cup has no meaning on its own—and neither does a nonprofit.
Phone Keith: Following, as best I can, your reasoning, what fills the Hope cup? What is it that makes Hope Hope?
Computer Keith: Like some two-bit Abbot and Costello, you’re on to something. Instead of who’s on first, you’re asking what fills the chalice of Hope and then answering your own question.
Phone Keith: I’m not sure I know what that means.
Computer Keith: Hope overflows with hope. Life in addiction offers little hope, other than an immediate hope that dope or booze can be found and, perhaps, a vision of a someday where addiction will have stopped. In recovery, hope abounds. Freed of addiction, I, and any others in recovery, can once again join the land of the living, our hopes turned to better purposes than immediate intoxication. Clean water flows through us, to be used for drinking or washing or swimming or spraying into the sunlight to watch rainbows form.
At this point, the meeting which never began is drawing to a close. My interlocutor and I bid farewell, blend into one whole Keith and depart, having never been together in the first place. This is the first Zoom meeting I’ve enjoyed in quite a while.
You matter. I matter. We matter.