…or half-full? That analogy has always kept me on my toes. Though recently I got a chance to observe a paragon of half-empty Eeyore style, you know a person who’s only goal seems to be to suck all the happiness out of a room.
[Oh, yes, there’s a quilt at the end of all this. Feel free to scroll past all this for that.]
It was 5am in the local airport, a place I spend far too much time in. There is a tight social contract there that early in the morning and I’ve rarely seen anyone break it. Simply endure TSA, navigate to your assigned gate (there are just 10 of them), and keep it quiet. Yes, ask questions; everyone understands and is happy to help. But ask quietly.
In these seats across from me landed a Mama bear, a Papa bear, and a blue-haired Teenager bear. At 5am. And she proceeded to break the social contract. She spoke non-stop in a barrage of insults of her family members, cutting them down while interspersing with complaints about her discomfort. They looked beaten down though they tried valiantly to defend themselves at first. She is herself a walking grey cloud not allowing anyone in her general area peace nor happiness. While I spent the whole time trying to fathom how she became this way so that I could muster up some empathy, I moved away so that my eyes wouldn’t end up permanently rolled to the back.
A 20 minute encounter told me very little about this woman and her family. But they left a mark on me. And let’s call her The Hurricane and treat her as a symbol now. Really.
I am no stranger to this inhumanely early flight to Atlanta and know that I may recover in a relatively peaceful cafe in the airport. That morning they subbed dry flavorless cantaloupe for home fries and somehow thought I wouldn’t notice. But normally they serve up a nice egg and potato breakfast that is the foundation of the day of work ahead of me when I land at my final destination. Waking into the day it occurred to me that there’s every chance that I could end up like the woman–The Hurricane–though I shook off the great melon-potato switch within a moment because it wasn’t something I nor the servers nor the restaurant could control. They just ran out of potatoes in this tiny outpost in the airport. Bummer.
That chuffed prideful feeling for overcoming that potato loss didn’t last long. One of my big airport pet peeves is the appalling etiquette at the baggage claim, especially the dudes who step in front of you only to triumphantly place a foot upon the ledge as if they just made a big game kill. No luggage has come out and yet no one but them can access that area. Just as I took this photo these other two men stepped into frame, crowding me out completely. No matter how assertively I said “excuse me” none of them would move to let me get my suitcase which was the second one down the chute. You really shouldn’t have to throw an elbow to get your stuff. I didn’t but I always make a point of swinging my suitcase out a little further than I have to so at least there’s a jolt of recognition for the crowders that there are others in the universe. A tiny spritz of spite. That’s how I move on and just acknowledge that I am grateful to have landed intact yet again.
The accumulation of an abundance of pet peeves and having no means to process them could be a reason one may turn into The Hurricane?
Of course. It’s how we respond to adversity and our outlook or temperament that determine our chances of becoming The Hurricane. Right? We can endure small annoyances, find ways to move on mainly by seeing that things may not be as annoying in other parts of life. It’s much easier to do in youth when the world is wider, time is less constrained, and more things seem within reach. It’s much easier when we have hope.
When I sat down to write today I thought I was going to tell you about how last week I just discovered that I’m “middle-aged.” And we still may get around to that because years of experience bring perspective on life and a sense of limitations on the possible. Put simply: reality and practicality are unkind. This trip described above, for example, is to regularly deal with an issue that cannot improve. Recognizing that got me past a denial phase that held me back. And yet…there’s a hope I wish I could get back.
I once had more hope: more to hope for, more reasons to hope. I once had more hope for myself but more importantly greater hope for my people…
Every morning I wake up and hope that this national nightmare is over. And, no, impeachment would solve very little. This is a not just a nation divided. This is a fearful nation with everyone on tenterhooks and adrenaline accumulating in anticipation of the worst coming to pass. We are in crisis and it will take a long long time to find the will to heal. Healing is not achieved by silencing or deporting or maiming those with whom you may disagree. But rather healing will come from true self-examination of ourselves—ALL of our selves that leads to collaboration on peaceful, truthfully reconciled coexistence. This is a tall order, but striving for it could improve our chances of getting to a better place together.
Well, poop. There I go hoping again.
Here’s another question. How do we measure hope? Is it all or nothing–one has hope or no hope–or is it something that grows and atrophies at will–hope half-full or half-empty? And is hope a cure? Or is it sometimes a problem itself?
Oh, there is so much to consider.
Title: hope, half-empty
Materials: embroidered cotton, quilting cotton, denim, perle cotton thread
Techniques: improvisationally machine pieced, hand quilted, hand bound
Finished size: 41 x 48″
Started: Nov 17, 2018
Finished: Dec 8, 2018