March 19, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

If you’re reading this, congratulations! You’re alive! Most people aren’t. The BBC estimates about 107 billion people have ever lived, EVER. If there are about 7 billion people walking the planet today, about 15 people are dead for every living soul, and you’re one of the lucky ones! Maybe life is not all you’d dreamed it would be—and if this time IS your dream time, you may want to have your medications checked—but life still goes on and you’re still on its team. Again, congratulations on being alive. Give yourself a pat on the back and keep on going.

On that pat on the back business, last night I had a dream come true, a real dream, a good dream. For silly but necessary reasons, I had to fill up the Hope van—the Barneymobile typically parked across the street from Hope—and I walked into a 7-11, clean rag in my just-washed hand to open the door and pick up a receipt. Out of the blue, a hand clapped me on the back and a voice said, “Has anyone given you one of these today?” It was Don, a Hope member who’s returned to recovery and seems to be doing well. He worked yesterday, he was abstinent and he had the kind of smile dope and booze just can’t manufacture. That pat on the back made not just my day or week, but my whole year! Small acts of kindness like Don’s, Mitzvoth to my Jewish friends, lighten the world and brighten our existence.

Many of us have been displaced from work, from shopping for chocolate chips for cookies, from our friends and from Hope—but not from hope, for our separation is finite but our hope is infinite. This period will end just as Before ended, for all of life is endings and beginnings, but the hope of a better future is “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower,” the gumption we need to keep on going. Our hope in recovery, to paraphrase a government definition, is that we may change, improving our health, living self-directed lives, and reaching our full potential. In short, hope is the fuel that animates our days, drives our recovery and makes life worth the living.

You are alive. Check. You have hope, or at least most of the time you have some hope or know where it can be found. Check. With life and with hope you’ve got all the ingredients you need. Maybe you’re lacking the chocolate chips, but life and hope are all that’s needed to make that future a better place.

You can begin with a verbal (from six feet away) pat on a stranger’s back if you’d like.

You matter. I matter. We matter.

Best,

Keith