by Cynthia Wands
December 21, 2021, the shortest day of the year. I’m glad today is here, and will be very glad to kick 2021 out of here, another year of the pandemic. What a difficult year. It’s been exasperating, infuriating, melancholy, sad, briefly joyful, buoyant, hopeful, frustrating, with a sprinkling of hopelessness thrown in.
So here’s a book, HOPE IN THE DARK, that Rebecca Solnit wrote, a few years ago:
I first found a reference to this book by an article written by Maria Popov, and I’m including it here because the entire article is really wonderful:
Solnit herself has written memorably about how we find ourselves by getting lost, and finding hope seems to necessitate a similar surrender to uncertainty. Here is a passage of hers that I find really wonderfully apt for playwrights right now:
“Certainly for artists of all stripes, the unknown, the idea or the form or the tale that has not yet arrived, is what must be found. It is the job of artists to open doors and invite in prophesies, the unknown, the unfamiliar; it’s where their work comes from, although its arrival signals the beginning of the long disciplined process of making it their own. Scientists too, as J. Robert Oppenheimer once remarked, “live always at the ‘edge of mystery’ — the boundary of the unknown.” But they transform the unknown into the known, haul it in like fishermen; artists get you out into that dark sea.”
But to get back to hope. Hope for what we’re looking for right now. In the book “HOPE IN THE DARK”, here is an idea of hope that I especially loved.
“Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes — you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand. We may not, in fact, know them afterward either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone.”
A wonderful idea to consider on this shortest day of the year.
The writings of Rebecca Solnit can also be found at her website: