A Breakdown of Love and Hope: How Hope Really Can Change Everything
January 20th, 2021 changed our lives. For many of us, it was the first time we took a full breath in over four years. It’s also the moment where we watched a Black African American woman take the oath of office as Vice President of the United States.
The pressure to focus on the notion of love often gets saturated with a made-up holiday that tends to disappoint more than it ignites. As the world has sat in a sea of uncertainty while a virus affixed itself to every able human throughout every reach of the globe, many of us fortunate enough to have a warm bed to sleep in and food to eat have taken for granted the simplicity of feeling a sense of assurance that right now, in this very moment, we are alive.
Whether we are scraping by, have taken financial hit after hit and lost ourselves to the new and isolated normal, every moment breath fills our lungs is one we must now be thankful for. This brings me to the notion of love. When news broke that we were all to stay indoors last March, told to limit social interactions, work from home when able and act responsibly to stop the spread of an aggressive and deadly virus, far too many focused on the luxuries they would miss out on.
Some used to dining out at restaurants, toiling away hard-earned paychecks with little concern for what may follow, were thrown into a tailspin of entitlement. The lavish things filling our homes, clothes we didn’t need but bought anyway, unnecessary expenses wasted on things that made us feel important. All of which to say, things that made us feel like we were loving ourselves, and yet the mental toll the year was about to take forced many of us to look inward.
“When day comes, we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry, a sea we must wade.
We’ve braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
and the norms and notions of what ‘just’ is isn’t always justice.
And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken,
but simply unfinished.”
Had we truly understood what self-love and the love for one another really was? Were the things money bought really fulfilling us in real and honest ways? Had we forgotten the beauty that exists in something as simple as sitting around the table, eating a home-cooked meal, while music penetrates our ears through the vinyl spinning ’round on the neglected record player? Had we even paused long enough in our incessant climb to success to really take a look outside to notice how beautiful the leaves swaying on the tree had become?
If we’re being honest with ourselves, the answer is no.
Our idea of love had catapulted from recognizing the core of what love is to being masked and shrouded in things and a pace of life none of us could possibly sustain.
So nature put a pin in it. Forced all of us—wealthy and impoverished—to stop.
And over the last 23 months, we have had to ask ourselves what love truly looks like. I may not have the answers you relate to, but for many of us, those who create as a form of release, we no longer understood our purpose and had to search our souls. We had to live life in slow motion so we would no longer miss the beautiful things we were too busy to notice before. We had to hear our children’s laughter, and their tears, filter through the noise to find its way to our soul, to be present and able to see them for the complicated, awe-inspiring, intelligent, aware human beings they are.
The space we once looked to for peace became the same space we would work, disagree, cook, laugh, cry, watch, play, sleep, dance, create and breathe in.
Breath. The very thing this virus lays waste to. The thing we all believed was within our power to control, to define, to determine how many more breaths we were to have within our basket of mortality.
Breath. The stark reminder that the sound of our child speaking, the sound of our lover moaning, the sound of our hearts beating was something to marvel in, and never again mistake as something we would have forever.
“That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it.”
Love. Love has been redefined because it has been challenged with such haste, such disdain, such dismal indifference that its opposite grew more powerful. Intoxicating those too cowardly to snuff it out. Love became overshadowed by entitlement, systemic conditioning, mindless violence and acts of sheer evil.
It seemed as if love had been strong-armed by hate. Beauty had been strangled by ugliness exhibited in vile words. Compassion swimming alone in a sea of apathy and indifference. Hope clamoring on to the threads unraveling far too quickly. Love seemed to have lost the fight.
And as the burden of that heavy truth rested atop our chest like a steel anchor, light seeped in. The roar of animosity became a tide of revolution. The injustices poisoning those cast with skin so fair, their rage no longer cloaked their darkness. And the world watched. And the light continued to push through like a man buried in a deep and cavernous grave with breaths still lingering and hope still very much alive.