Snapshots of Hope, Part One: The New Bird Flu
I had been searching for hope for a long time. I was having a very bad week and hope was pretty scarce. I was researching a project on media coverage of the war in Iraq and feeling like humanity sucked, big time. Not to mention I was in a friend lull and feeling lonely. People get so busy sometimes that they neglect the other humans that exist around them. I went down to Ballard to get some work done but I found myself distracted. It was the first gorgeous day in what felt like roughly a century and it was magical. There were people out, walking and talking, men playing chess in front of the cafe. Work was kind of impossible at this point. So I sat there. And I found my hope.
I watched people interacting with one another for hours, just seeing humans being human. After being cooped up and lonely, longing for sunshine and human contact for the seemingly endless winter it felt like I was waking up from an intensely long sleep, the kind of sleep that makes you tired all over again because sleeping that long is exhausting. My heart felt like it had been packed in ice all winter and maybe it was time to let the ice melt.
It's hard to live in this world lately and I am acutely aware of the difficulty involved in procuring hopefulness in a world where we communicate via text message and fear everyone around us is a terrorist. For a long time now, I have felt scared all of the time. When it's late at night and I'm lying in bed, if I hear a noise above a semi-normal level I look out the window to see where the bomb fell. It's usually just the train in the distance. I hate this fear, this creeping icy hand of sadness that closes in on me and makes all of the hope I attempt to gather dissipate. So I've decided it's time to find the hope and keep it.
That sunny day in Ballard reminded me where the hope comes from, it comes from the simple act of loving another human being. It struck me that day: the most radical thing we can do is just love other people! I found this revelation create a sliver, a place for the hope to seep slowly into my weak and blackened peanut-sized heart and inflate it very slowly like a balloon, let some sun shine into it. It's much harder to go into the world with a swollen-to-the-point-of-bursting heart because it makes you want to do crazy things, like have a real face-to-face conversation with another person or (gasp!) embrace someone you love.
After that sunny day I vowed I was going to talk to people, touch people, let people touch me. The only way I feel like we can overcome this rampant fear is to wield our swords of love and slay the shit out of it. I wanted to participate in my community and talk to my neighbors. They were not terrorists, they were nice old people and families. I told others how it felt when I got the fear, I found they got the fear as well and when I talked about the fear it actually helped and made it diminish a little bit more with each person I talked to. I smiled at strangers, just trying to show some commiseration with other humans. It felt seriously awesome.
All the heartache I was feeling about humanity was on a very large scale and I was feeling miserable about how people I'd never met, and will probably never meet, were treating people they'd never met and will probably never meet. Yet I was feeling nothing for the people I was meeting and the people I already knew. Now I'm thinking maybe it's like a chain reaction, loving people around me will make them love the people around them and love will be the new bird flu. Except people won't panic and wear weird face masks, they'll finally feel some sense of relief, unlock their doors, come outside and breathe.
Chelsea Robinson is a girl genius with aspirations for her own record label, publishing company and island.