HOPE AND POST-APOCALYPTIC READING—OR, DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF

You’ve heard these quotes at one time or another in your life:

“Hope springs eternal….”—Alexander Pope

“All human wisdom is summed up in two words: wait and hope.”—Alexandre Dumas

“Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.”—Robert H. Schuller

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”—Martin Luther King

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”—Desmond Tutu

“Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.—Jonas Salk

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”—Albert Einstein

There always seems to be hope, after any major war, in a futuristic dystopian society, even up until the meteor crashes to the earth. Lately, I have been reading a lot of novels and short stories from the World War II era (All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr, 2014), and in the dystopian fiction genre (The Last Policeman, Countdown City, and World of Trouble, Ben Winters, 2013-2014). Perhaps it’s because fall is here and plants are dying or going dormant. Maybe it’s because that’s what I needed to read to understand my place in the universe. Or maybe it’s just because I see so many people sweating all the small stuff.

People in these book scenarios never seem to give up, even though tragedy is occurring in their lives. They are brave and full of hope for their futures, even though a catastrophic event is about to occur. Are they crazy, holding onto something that will never be? Is this what we want out of our lives? Are we as a people brave enough to accept the inevitable? If we died tomorrow would we be happy with our accomplishments?

Why is it that we can’t learn that all of the little daily distractions aren’t important?

Why is it we can’t learn to look at the bigger picture even when all the little things keep getting in our way?

Is it possible to focus on the world around us without getting sucked into the negative?

Why do we always need someone to blame?

Why does it matter what other people think? Is it being afraid of isolation?

So what’s the answer?

Can we communicate without revealing way too much information? Can we enjoy a conversation in public without others butting in and needing to tell them their story? And, is it our obligation to listen to their stories?

I think it’s possible to have a balance, enjoying the company of each other as adults without sharing too much information or being distressed by their stories. I think we can take lots of time for our family and kids and have a decent life. I think we can make it in the world without blaming and being angry at all the external forces. The world goes on and we have to raise our children in the safest and nurturing environment possible.

We are responsible for our children. But, we also have to teach our children responsibility. We have to teach them that they are accountable and must accept the consequences for their actions. Children have to learn hard life lessons from the beginning so they will become great citizens and great parents.

As parents we also need to learn to relax, but we can still be a force in our children’s lives without being overbearing. And sometimes that includes discipline and accountability. Each year we tend to give kids more choices, but these choices must come with more responsibility for their actions. We hope that these life lessons we have taught them will build up in their minds, overlapping into a positive driving force. This driving force helps shape their personalities. It is the choices we make as adults that influence the choices of our children. And, as a result, it is the choices our children make that will influence them to become better adults.

As adults we know our brains and bodies are aging. It is inevitable. But, we can keep them active and sharp if we learn along with our children.

A great young author recently wrote these words of wisdom and I have embraced these thoughts:

“Nothing in life is certain, nor is it guaranteed. There is no certainty; there is no guarantee. There is only the mountain peak on the horizon, shrouded in clouds and curious majesty, waiting to be explored.” (quoted by Martin Fullenbaum, in Emails from Heaven, by Sam Neumann, 2014.)

So, as the saying goes: “Don’t sweat the small stuff… and it’s all small stuff.” (Richard Carlson, 1997.)

There is always one more hill to explore but live in the present moment with the hill you are currently climbing. Live for learning side by side with children and seniors. Sympathize with others when they are going through something. Be patient. Get rid of negativity. Live to give and receive hugs. Live with hope.

 

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