Hope: Five Slices of Internet Goodness Pie (Plus One)

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One of my amazing cousins has been giving me jobs to do lately for his Happiness Project. I get points for completing his tasks and, if I win, he’ll donate a hundred dollars to the charity of my choice. Because I’ve enjoyed his latest assignment so much, I thought I’d share it here.

Here’s the assignment: “Hope: Post an article that gives you hope for the future each day for five (5) days and what it is about the article that gives you hope.”

Day 1

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The secret lives of happy looking teachers following their artistic dreams give me hope that I can have a profession and a vocation just for the joy of it.

Day 2

This video give me hope because the people in it are making beautiful things out of something I had only thought of as a blight. People are so amazing. A sea chair! And it’s open sourced so I could join.

Plus…the fisherman remind me of my grandpa the Swede. I can almost taste his smoked salmon and smell the salt sea air.

Day 3

This video gives me hope along with Zamperini’s story by Laura Hillenbrand. I am in awe of how much Zamperini endured and not only survived but thrived afterward. I am filled with hope at the thought of all the others contributing their stories to this project. (Even though I know Universal Pictures is probably thinking at least a little about their bottom line as a motivation.) 

And, as a writer, I feel a glimmer of hope that I could write a story that meant as much as Hillenbrand’s did to me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8mBzKLhL0U

Day 4

This article on dailygood.com gives me hope because I’ve been swimming in writing procrastination. Judging myself is not working out all that well for me. I think I’ll give the self-compassion a whirl instead.

(This one got many cracks in comments about putting things off. It seems to me that we all put things off to some degree or other. Laughing at ourselves about it may be a form of self-compassion the article hadn’t considered.)

Day 5

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I met my professor from Western Washington University last weekend. It was wonderful to see the person who taught me to teach. This last article for Wayne’s project fills me with hope for all the teachers out there who get to hear how great they are. I’m also intrigued about the questions about what makes great teaching and how to get there.

Bonus Hope

As  a bonus, I’m adding this voting video by Hank Green. It gives me tremendous hope to think that people of all ages might listen to him and choose to participate. And he’s also hilarious. Something about hilarious people gives me hope, too.

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Chestnuts of Hope

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At least 10 years ago, I read Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. I think it was in this story that I first learned of the American Chestnut and how the trees had vanished from a blight about 50 years ago. I remember the deep sadness I felt for that loss. Towering trees that had filled the eastern landscapes were gone.

But yesterday I heard a story on the radio telling me that the trees haven’t completely vanished. A few have survived and an interviewer stood under 60 foot chestnuts with the couple who planted them, hoping that the trees might outlive them.  The radio sound of the bees swarming in the pollen of a tree’s canopy filled my car as I listened to the story. It’s a three minute piece. If you’d like to listen, I put a link to the story here:

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/features/npr.php?id=202401666

This article has more information about the comeback and pictures of the ‘redwoods of the east’ with their fuzzy nuts and fat leaves:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/12/13/167142393/sowing-the-seeds-for-a-great-american-chestnut-comeback

I felt surprised at first and then the story of once gone chestnuts returning filled me with a strange hope. How many other ‘gone’ things in my life might come back?

What impressed me, too, was that people had cut down many of the chestnuts years ago when the blight took over. People had lost hope and simply chopped their trees rather than wait to see if the fungus would kill them.

The radio piece was a short story, yet it sits on my mind. I have a mental picture of the couple who planted these trees standing under their leaves, looking up, and hoping. Hoping even as they know that trees might die and giving seedlings away so others can plant and hope, too.

I know that too many people, plants and animals have truly disappeared. The Carolina Parakeet, as far as I know, is never coming back. Many people I have loved are also gone from this world.

But it gave me such a thrill to hear the bees buzzing over the radio at me as they worked a tree I had given up for lost.

At its best, I think life it like this. We know about death. We know we all will succumb. But in the meantime…in the meantime, there is life and bees buzzing to give us that little spark to keep on. I also wonder how many times I have thought something was dead and gone when it was just waiting for the right moment to come back. I wonder. And I’d like to think I can hold off on chopping trees down even though the end may be inevitable. After all, the bees might need that pollen. I know I need the hope.