Friday, November 07, 2008

Reacquiring a taste for hope

I was diabetic for 5½ years when I got a gastric bypass that cured it. A lot of foods that I had had to eschew for years were suddenly possible again, and it was an odd experience for a while. So many foods I had regretfully put onto the "never again" list and forgotten about. One by one I would think of them and have, all new each time, the realization: "hey, maybe I can have this again!" and the corresponding hope and excitement. It was like the new hope was made new again each time.

The same thing is happening now in a much different area of life.

Late Tuesday night as the election results were coming in my reaction was mostly just relief. There was a bit of hope but primarily that wasn't quite sinking in. But since then, periodically, I've had a sudden realization. "Hey, we might actually get out of Iraq." Or, "Hey, we might actually stop being a pariah on the international stage." Or, "Hey, we might actually take global warming semi-seriously." Or, "Hey, maybe we'll stop throwing away civil liberties." And so on. Make your own list.

Each individual idea was a separate blossoming of that almost-forgotten taste of hope, because each topic was something where I had long ago gotten used to the idea that these hopes were gone. After years and years of having stupidity rubbed in like ground glass, you get numb to it, you put away the hope. It becomes a litany, almost an anti-mantra of cynicism: "Obviously, we need to do X, but obviously, we're never going to, so let's just accept that and move on."

So the renaissance of hope in the United States that started Tuesday night is slowly sinking in not as a gradual awareness, but as a syncopated pizzicato of revelations. It's like rediscovering the taste of something I used to love but had to give up, and then a few hours later, rediscovering the taste of something else I also used to love but had to give up.

It's one thing to say "Yes, we can." It's another to slowly realize all the things that, now, yes, we can. One at a time.

1 comment:

litlfrog said...

Driving through Montpelier this morning I realized, "Oh, Obama said he'd close the Gitmo prison. And he's in charge now!"