Monday, April 29, 2024

Hallways of Hope

I’ve never been a big fan of uncovering “the meaning of Life,” but have been on the obsessive side of reflecting on the meaning of my life. Indeed, these 4,000 plus posts plus 52 years of keeping journals has been an exercise is trying to capture that elusive butterfly of meaning in words. So when I find things that others have written that well-describe my own search for meaning, bells start ringing like a Sunday morning in a European city announcing church. 


This happened twice in Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Dreams, both times from the character Hallie who goes to Nicaragua in the midst of the war to help out and writes letters to her sister. Here’s the first:


“What keeps you going isn’t some fine destination but just the road you’re on, and the fact that you know how to drive. You keep your eyes open you see this damned-to-hell world you got born into and you ask yourself, ‘What life can I live that will let me breathe in and out and love somebody or something and not run off screaming into the woods?’ I didn’t look down from some high rock and choose this work. This work chose me.” 


I like that image. The road I’m on and that fact that I know how to drive. That this work of making children happy that chose me over a half-century ago is the route I drive almost every day and all my efforts at doing the work better yet are simply my driving lessons and determination to know the territory without any damn GPS telling me where to go. Indeed, it has been all the wrong turns I’ve made and the excursions off the main highway that have been my finest teachers. 

“The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. What I want is so simple…elementary kindness… The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed. That’s about it. Right now I’m living in that hope, running down its hallway and touching the walls on both sides.” 


Another vibrant image—living inside my specific hope of raising kids better than we mostly have done, running down the hallways of that house touching the walls on both sides. 


Today I’m off for the first of three visits helping kids at a local school prepare for and perform a concert, with these images by my side. Thank you, Hallie. 


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