The Aardvark Blog
The last few days have been difficult ones for those of us of a generally optimistic disposition. It is very hard to assert one's Pooh-ish good nature, when others are exploring their inner Eeyore, and the newspapers are filled with articles painting the future in the blackest of colours.
But perhaps as a result of spending one's days surrounded by books by the world's greatest writers, detailing mankind's greatest accomplishments, I remain filled with hope for the future and for the probability of a brighter, kinder tomorrow. And surely it was hope that kept the rescuers in Abruzzo Italy looking when cold science dictated that their task was hopeless. And from that hope came nine lives, rescued from their icy prison, to return blinking into daylight and the embrace of their friends and families.
President Obama chose to call his second book 'The Audacity of Hope' - a title he derived indirectly from G F Watts great painting of that name. Watts shows hope as a beautiful woman, blindfolded and playing a harp. A powerful image, but not I am afraid how I see hope. When I think of hope, I think of the tiny snowdrops flowering amidst snow and frost.I think of the sources of rivers, that seem no more than puddles, and yet eventually become great torrents as they flow out into the ocean.
Hope drove the first pilgrims to voyage to the New World in the belief that there they could build a new Jerusalem free from religious persecution. Many of those who left, came from this area, and numbered Quakers and non-conformists from Radnorshire, Herefordshire and beyond. Their hopes were not always fulfilled, and their dreams would eventually bring them into conflict with those who had been on that land before. Yet without their hope there would have been no Abraham Lincoln, No Gettysburg Address, No Declaration of Independence - 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness'. No Martin Luther King, No Woody Guthrie, No Jack Kerouac, No Copeland and his 'Fanfare for the Common Man'; No Hemingway, no dos Pasos, no Jackson Pollock, no home for huddled masses, no Yankees - indeed no Baseball. What a P T Barnum, Showboat, MGM Technicolor hope they had, and boy oh boy how much and how great has been the result.
John Lennon looked to Hope at the summation of his greatest song: “You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us. And the world will live as one.”; for Emily Dickinson "Hope is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul/And sings the tune without the words/And never stops at all";Charles Dickens' hope was "that real love and truth are stronger in the end than any evil or misfortune in the world." Let us hope that he was right.
We all have our hopes and dreams. Mine was to open a bookshop. That dream has endured many reversals, and many dark moments, but here we are, that most improbable of realities, a giant bookshop surrounded by nothing but miles of open countryside, sheep and cattle pens. Find your hope. It will sustain you.
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