March 24, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

By the time you finish reading this, you will have experienced the creation of a new word! Read on to become the first kid in your neighborhood to utter these syllables and grasp their meaning.

My friend, Tito, is very impatient, so I know he wants to read the word first, then learn what it means. For Tito:

Now, a brief introduction.

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve loved words, oftentimes to my detriment. When I was four, for example, my maternal grandfather, an inveterate outdoorsman, took me fishing for the first and only time, bringing me home after 15 minutes on the water because I would not, could not shut up. I imagine my chatter went something like this:
“This boat is red.”
“Apples are red and they float, like when you’re bobbing for them.”
“What other red things float? Goldfish aren’t red, they’re gold. And they don’t float. They swim.”
“Think there are any goldfish in here, Gramper?”
“If you painted a goldfish red, do you think it would float?”
“If you painted me gold, do you think I’d know how to swim?”
“Where do you keep your gold, Gramper? Do you remember pirates?”
“Did pirates all know how to swim? Did the gold help them?”
Et cetera.

I have no memory of spending any time alone with my grandfather during the next 30 years of his life. Because of words.

I love the sound, the meaning, the feel of words. Among my favorite-sounding words are: slither, serendipity, epiphany, defenestrate, plasma and cashmere. Each one of these (or all of them together in a bouillabaisse—and add that word to the mix) can be used as a meditative aid. Simply say them calmly over and over and they’ll lose all meaning, helping you to relax into the mystic—or get locked up as a lunatic

Some very pretty sounding words, though, can carry dark potions indeed. While “defenestrate” above means “to throw another person out a window,” it’s not a poisonous word—who, really, worries about windows? No, dangerous words suck the life out of you, convince you you’re not any good, born to lose, bound to lose. It’s those words I hate, and those words I aim to replace.
Words like: meaningless.
Words like: useless.
Words like: hopeless.

I know they’ve each got their antonyms, their opposites—meaningful, useful and hopeful–but the three poisonous words have so much power, drain so much out of the human spirit, those -ful words seem like empty boasts. Although all of us have experienced a complete emptiness, a void of meaning, a vacancy of use, a vacuum of hope, few of us have experienced being filled to the brim with any of them and none save the saints have lived life full of them .

The best most of us can hope for is more: more meaning, more use, more hope.

Even in these uncertain, dangerous, calamitous, insert your own adjective here, times, we need not be hopeless. We can choose hopemoreness over hopelessness, can opt to focus on the good that exists and may yet populate the earth.

My wish for each of you is that during those moments of feeling hopeless you remember you can choose to be hopemore.

And that you remember you read it here first.

You matter. I matter. We matter.



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