I hate overcast days. My sinuses are incredibly sensitive so whenever a low pressure system rolls in I feel a viselike pressure start to build in the middle of my head. There is nothing I can do about it except wait it out or try to distract myself. Luckily, I have a wandering mind, so I am easily distracted.
Yesterday morning, after my rounds, I drove north to Einstein Bagels in Loveland (great name). I love their bagels – very close to NY bagels. Because of road work, heading back towards Berthoud, I like to mix up my return routes. Sometimes my selections are completely by accident. Since I have a tendency to get lost whenever I try to be adventurous, this often leads me down roads less taken.
While I was trying to find my way home along the back roads yesterday morning, I was dwelling on the headache that was brewing in my skull and gazing at the blanket of grey clouds that literally blocked out the sky. It felt fittingly shitty, given that yesterday was 9-11, so I just accepted that shitty was going to be my lot for the day. Given the day, I knew a lot of people were suffering way more than I had a right to.
But as I was heading west along this one stretch, I spotted this bit of brightness at the edge of the heavy grey canopy. As I got closer, I saw that it was a white cloud peeking out between two mountaintops. Luckily there was no one on the road behind me because I felt compelled to immediately and recklessly pull over on the shoulder and capture that moment.
That little cotton ball gave me a sense of hope.
There are very few certainties in life, and no guarantees.
The odds are often stacked against getting what you want.
So, why do we continue to push on?
Hope. Plain and simple.
I’m sure I have distilled the essence of my concept of hope from my childhood being raised a Catholic. Before I was unceremoniously branded and kicked off the altar boys, I had learned the Latin Mass. I knew the Catechism. I had the road map to eternal salvation.
Indeed, I was raised in a virulent strain of my faith – I was a BIC (Bronx Irish Catholic).
I watched my predecessor generations of Irish Catholic grandparents and parents (and all of my extended Clan members) withstand all kinds of troubles during my formative years based solely on their hope that things will turn around.
Amazingly, it always did.
Now I don’t want to confuse the concept of “Hope” with the closely allied concept of “Faith.”
Faith, to me, is turning over the resolution of my problems to a higher power.
My ancestors and genetic predecessors had an irrevocable faith that God would sort things out for them, either here on earth, or afterwards, in heaven.
Hope, for me, is how that higher power offers me an opportunity to sort things out in the here and now on my own. God says, “Tommy, I made you in my image, you have all the tools, now figure this shit out yourself. I have a universe to run. ”
But just to make it a little easier, given my well demonstrated natural, human fallibility, and the ease in which I can get lost, the creator adds, “But here’s a little hope, a guidepost if you will, to let you know you are on the right path. Now get after it.”
But the trick to hope is that you need to keep your eyes peeled for the signposts. And when you think you’ve spotted one, you need to stop and take that good look at it to see where it can take you.
That white cloud was yesterday’s signpost. I felt a sense of hope when I spotted it. I felt that, despite the darkness of the day, something good was coming my way.
When I got back to Casa Claire, Claire was on duty, standing in the front property, grazing with Honey.
I went inside and sat down with Lisa to watch the reading of the names.
I was frustrated by all of the networks’ refusals to just run the reading without the opinion or commercial interruption. That is how tragedies are marginalized. We turned off the sound and just read the screen ribbons to commemorate the names.
Afterwards, as I was returning my coffee cup to the kitchen sink, feeling the darkness from the marginalization of the 9-11 heroes, I glanced out the front window and spotted Claire gazing over the fence directly at me. And having just rolled in the mud, she was looking very much like Captain Benjamin Willard from Apocalypse Now –
That was Claire giving me her mind-meld motivational look. “Remember the white cloud,” came to mind.
Claire’s look told me to get down into the dungeon and before my computer. So, of course, I did just that.
When I checked my email there was one that surprised me. It was from a Mike Bhand, a writer for the on-line magazine VoyageLA. It had the following link embedded:
The date on the article is “September 11, 2023.”
It was a really nice article and, more importantly, in a hip LA magazine. Suddenly there was hope that some Hollywood type would spot it and take me up on my challenge to “give me a call.”
Again, no guarantees, but at least I have hope.
So, with just that one bit of hope, given that one little white cloud, yesterday became a lot less dark.
And I haven’t rejected the BIC concept of “Faith.” I have the absolute faith that my mother is up in Catholic heaven working her ass off to make sure that her middle child gets an admission ticket to the Pearly Gates. Until then, I’m going to hope that the creator has given me the tools to get where I need to go in this life.
And look, it is Tuesday. Hope springs eternal.
I must turn to my kitty cuddling and rounds.
You fine, five readers go out there and take command of your week.
God gave you all the tools you need.
And a little hope. So have faith.
But whatever you do, make today a great one.