more thoughts on hope


After my last post, I realized I left something out—some of my other reasons for hope. Seeing the ocean, making pictures and babysitting my little buddy feed my soul, and I am also encouraged by our rapidly changing world. Terrified, to be sure, frequently disgusted, and also moved by the acts of courage and solidarity all around us.

What I’m feeling now is our empire crumbling and a mass, long overdue awakening.

This might sound overly optimistic to some. It’s not meant to. I have moments of rage and despair (sometimes more than moments), nights where I don’t sleep much for worry about how this will end. Some of our fellow citizens are armed and scared to death of change, unless it’s rewriting the Constitution or cutting social programs, or whatever fresh hell their leaders are cooking up for us. So, not a great combination.

But. confederate flags are coming down, monuments to hate are being toppled, reparations seem more possible now, and there’s a healthy skepticism around the very idea of billionaires and around the idea that capitalism is responsible for the best ideas. Because competition, I guess. And really, why must competition be the default motivation for creation, for doing good in the world? If competition is all it is said to be, why do we (most of us) so admire people like John Lewis and Dr. Fauci?

There are movements, there are activists to follow, there are actions to take, there are walls of moms, there are walls of all kinds of people, there are leaf blower dads, there are Black Lives Matter signs all over, there are murals, gorgeous, stirring, heartfelt murals, there are brave people standing up for others, there is a good chance we will have a Black woman VP (and eventually, president), there are questions being asked about how we got here, how we can do better, and about systemic racism, there are people working to educate themselves about oppression and their role in helping to end it, and there are young people, so many young people, who are fierce and compassionate and committed to a better world. There is more.

I carry hope, along with more difficult emotions, and with an urgent belief in the need for action.

If you’re feeling in need of some lightness—so important to find where we can these days— then I hope you’ll enjoy August’s calendar. Look forward to, or record something delightful.

6 thoughts on “more thoughts on hope”

  1. That’s such a beautiful photo, Susan, I just love it.
    How does your hopefulness about change in the world affect your art practice? Just curious!

    1. Thank you, Sara! And thanks for your always interesting questions. I think my photography and hopefulness inform each other. Without hope, I wouldn’t have the energy to pick up my camera (and some days I just don’t), and taking pictures can help me feel hopeful, whether it’s the serendipity of happening upon a scene outside, or the more meditative act of composing an image and thinking about how to light it.

  2. Yes, Susan, I agree, creativity and hope reinforce each other. And I think there is a parallel between seeing the disruption in the political and social world and feeling hope there, and feeling hopeful about one’s creative expression. Because both represent systems. Society is a system, and the self is a system. Many different parts bound together, badly and unequally, but nonetheless contingent and needing each other; and systems by nature tend toward homeostasis. When the social system is disrupted and maybe even changing, I think, on an unconscious level (Jung anyone?), some intuitive folks might link the social energy to their self system, hence the self feels hopeful of self-change.

    Susan, have you had hopeful images pop into your mind? An archetype organizes, through an image or symbol, the energy of a time. It points to the unknown. When I ask myself, quick! what image pops into my mind about this time we are in? The image that springs to my mind is: the image of a placard on a wood stick. The placard is blank, though, no words. Why is that, I ask myself? Because…I realize it is not my placard, it is someone else’s. It’s empty, because I cannot express for them what is theirs only to say. But I am looking. My gaze is on the voices ricocheting in the public sphere. I am looking at the sign, perhaps looking for signs.

    1. Sara, so eloquently put! Thank you for your wisdom–so much to ponder here. Tbh, I feel the connection between the global and the personal but am not always able to articulate it in the moment. Sometimes I don’t know if I’m drawn to images/scenes because they inspire hope, or if I feel hopeful after I’m there, or after I’ve created something.

      I’m reminded of an earlier conversation we had. You had asked what the ocean brings up for me, archetypically speaking, and I responded: “Maybe a combination of the known and the unknown. Journeys afar and inward. The ocean feels like home. And vast.” These ideas are present when I’m watching the waves, but mostly in a nonverbal way, at least in the moment. Which makes me especially grateful for conversation and questions.

      The images of the signs are lovely. Maybe an art project in your future? 🙂

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