Today my body claims her bones. I am tired and sturdy. Bones and I share purpose. The pavement doesn’t defy me. Nor the dog. High in the upper reaches of a willow, a dove coos a greeting, not to me but to spring so newly arrived. Do you see her there, next to the clouds?
Think of all the other kinds of tired! There’s fragile tired as after a haunted night without sleep and wired tired, often associated with a deadline too long deferred.
There’s marathon tired, the through and through physical exhaustion that feels laudatory and comes with a permission slip reading: REST.
There’s dutiful tired, arising when the body ought to be firing on all cylinders but isn’t because drudgery and resentment make their nasty claims.
Mourning is its own kind of tired, one that comes in waves with rhythms all its own.
There’s 4:00 tired, requiring no cause whatsoever and almost always attended by an overwhelming need to nap.
There’s the hand-wringing tired of anxious grievance. Formerly rare, now nearly constant, this kind of tired jangles with us through our days as we watch the news, listen to the unhinged tirades, or merely read about them because we can’t abide the sound of his voice. As we scroll through twitter and go to our trusted online news sources, this tired has us reading current indictments in full and praying for more.
There’s the tired of despair. This type of weariness is dangerous, bearing as it sometimes does an irresistible and irrevocable mandate. Nobody who wants to live should heed that mandate.
There’s the tired of age that comes when you bend to wipe the floor as you’ve done with ease forever and upon rising, your hand grips the counter. Maybe there’s a tiny groan.
Sturdy tired is nearly indistinguishable from sturdy energy. It offers a determined walk, a pain-free pivot, a place on a warm bench where you just know hope visits.
Hope visits. Spring bears glad tidings in its bird song, bulb blades, warmed pavement, wispy clouds — and it does so every god-damned year. How is such constancy possible in a world full of damning variables?
Without thinking too hard about variables shaping clouds and rain, I’ll take this magenta scarf, formerly my sister’s, and walk back out into a morning brushed with promise.
Even before we’ve tinkered with our clocks, the light speaks of spring. Soft and democratic, it offers its glow wherever it falls, instilling a sense of hope.
Is this different from “radical hope” — something I’ve read a lot about since November 2016? Radical hope galvanizes. Forces us to say ‘yes’ to things, because saying ‘no’ is not enough (Naomi Klein).
Radical hope is an act of courage (Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark). Not for the faint of heart. Solnit writes, “Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists.”
Terry Patten writes in A New Republic of the Heart that “a radical robust hope lies on the other side of despair. It can energize and sustain us, inspire our highest capacities, make us a powerful positive force … and help us address our inconceivably vast challenges.”
Cynicism is easy. Hope takes work, builds community, etc. These are necessary reminders. Medicinal, even.
But yesterday offered a less dynamic sense of hope. Nothing catapulting or conspiring. Soft and inviting, it offered a whisper of spring.
Even when a slow-poke cocker spaniel (on a retractable leash no less), forced Finn and me to walk a stretch of Route 9 at rush hour, I was not diminished.
We negotiated past old and crusty piles of snow. Avoided the paper refuse that might house irresistible tidbits. The roar coming at us. Two tons of steel intent on getting to work. Car after car with their threads of exhaust. I remained open. Open to the assaulting noise. Open to vulnerability — aware of the risk — a slip here riskier than elsewhere.
Maybe because it was warmer yesterday, maybe because February really is the month when the turning of season makes itself felt, but in that motion and noise and ever present possibility of calamity, there was hope.
It came unbidden. Full of promise. Announcing itself with a flutter. Quietly.
Where does hope reside for you these days? Is it something you have to work at? If so, how do you do that?
Yesterday: cold enough to see my breath. Today: they’re predicting temps in the 90’s.
Meanwhile, this small quilt is missing something (life?).
I love the orb (though I can’t quite say if it’s a sun or a moon) and I like the integrity of construction — the house is pieced; the orb is revered appliquéd. But it feels lacking. What would you add?
To add anything on top is to disrupt the construction. I’ve layered raw edge appliqué on pieced compositions more times than I can count — so why the hesitancy?
This little one, on the other hand, makes my heart sing. Fun fact: there were a couple of summers in my teens when I worked side by side with Sufis — I thought they were the coolest people on the planet.
Sometimes my capacity for bitterness amazes even me. So let this be a gratitude post. Here’s to rocks that spell love out of ancient debris and planetary pressure.
Here’s to the animal companions who model joy and devotion and health without even being asked.
Here’s to the creative impulse which follows seasons and rhythms all its own, thankfully exhibiting an immunity to doubt and self-posturing.
Here’s to the birds that sing, to cleared off sidewalks, to the bobbing red head of the woodpecker out front, and to spring bulbs that continue their flourishing growth long after the flowers are gone.
And lastly, to all sources of wisdom, both unseen and seen, as well as to the tiny window of the personality willing to be cranked open and let them in (at least sometimes), I give Thanks.
PS. That cap “T” is one erroneous autocorrect that I’ll let stand. I give Thanks.