The thing with feathers
Writing takes perseverance, and writing in hopes of getting published takes perseverance and an unbounded (maybe even irrational) level of hope. I’m sure when people ask me “What motivates you?” they are expecting something more complicated than simply hope, but really that’s all I’ve got. Hope that I can leave the world a better place than when I found it. Hope that I can be better. Hope that I can write something worth reading.
My Grandma Helen passed away 10 years ago at the age of 100. I’m not sure how you live to 100 without an unbounded level of hope. As a young adult, she taught in a one room schoolhouse in Western Maryland. She supplied me with poetry books, novels, and blank journals. When Grandma was in her late seventies, she went to Europe for the first time, and when she was in her early eighties, she went back. This made such an impression on me as a young teenager; she never gave up on her dream to travel no matter how long it took to come true.
Grandma had a love for Emily Dickinson, which she shared with me. Honestly I cannot remember when I started using Dickinson’s Hope 1 as a mantra, but over the years I find myself repeating these words, both during times where I feel little hope and when I feel it in abundance.
Hope is the thing with feathers That perches on the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all
I love Dickinson’s explanation of hope, because it’s not really an explanation at all. It's a metaphor, a feeling, a movement, a song with no words. You know when you have it, and you know when you’ve lost it. Hope is relentless. Hope doesn’t let go easily, and thank God it doesn’t.
Here’s to hope in 2022.
Keep looking up.
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Rebecca W. Wheeler
School counselor, psychology educator, and yoga instructor.