I am filled with optimism. I sit here with my computer on my lap and a cat looking plaintively at me, hoping for my lap for himself. Such pleading in those green eyes, he makes me laugh. “Not this time,” I say to Frankie, as he finally gives up and settles against me on the couch.
I am light, I am benevolent, I am joyful. It feels like going back to church again, where the congregation fills the pews, and chatter rolls around the sanctuary before the service begins. We will see that this year, I am sure of it.
As I go out to the grocery store, I smile at people from behind my mask. I think they can tell because my eyes crinkle up. I learned that from a woman in Harris Teeter one day. Our buggies were headed for a low-speed collision, which was fortunately averted. I didn’t want her to think I was upset, so I said, “I’m smiling.”
She said, “I know, I can see it in your eyes,” and her eyes crinkled up too. There are a lot of crinkly eyes at Harris Teeter on Thursdays. We seniors all shop there for our 5% discount. How nice it would be if we could solve all our disputes with crinkly eyes.
So why am I so optimistic? It feels like a new day dawning, with the changes in Washington. It feels like someone has gone out and hosed down the streets, and then swept them clean. I feel washed clean, too. We are seeing a return to decency and caring for others.
I believe we have a special opportunity this year to change the atmosphere we live in from hate to love, even if only in our own circles. I have a friend who has told me that he no longer watches or listens to the news or reads about politics. It was making him angry, and he doesn’t want to be that person. We have been at odds for years because we are on opposite poles. I applauded his decision and told him I feel the same way.
I have seen people who act out of love, and that is what I am hoping for, for me and for others. I know that behaving in a loving way feels so much better than acting hatefully, because I have experienced this love for myself, and I believe we were meant to live this way. Love is powerful, and a person can act lovingly even when the feeling is not there. The feeling can come later, and can take a long time, but the action sustains the love.
Now that we are ensconced in 2021, we can all shake our heads in disbelief with what this country and the world endured in 2020. For me, suffering grief and isolation at the same time, I had to manufacture hope. I knew I just had to survive, and I did.
I am optimistic about my life because I have survived a year without my husband, Jerry, and there is no place to go but up. I rise up a bit more each month as I learn more about myself and my aspirations for the future. There are no timetables for anything, I realize, so I am easy on myself as I consider future home repairs and responsibilities. I can look out at my backyard, now all winter-dead, and picture how it will look when it is green and blooming.
Right now, it is easy to be kind to others. My heart is happy and grateful. However, I am realistic enough to know that my hopeful feeling probably won’t last. I have always known that I am a bit of a dreamer. But loving others, and praying for them, and being my best self that I can be to them, is not impossible. I pray daily for God’s help, that he will give me the grace to continue to strive for that.
John 13:34 “I give you a new commandant, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”