Hope comes in many forms.
Sometimes it is a hand held out to help you rise.
Sometimes it is, as Emily Dickinson said, the thing with feathers…the little Bird, that kept so many warm.
And, sometimes it is a moment, a period in time when we all are faced with a difficult truth and asked to resolve to do better.
I’m writing this after watching the inauguration ceremony yesterday, but I’m not referring to the leadership transition or ceremony that took place. Nor am I talking about any political party or set of beliefs.
The hope I saw today came from a 22-year-old poet, who saw this moment in history as a hill to be climbed. And who, wonderfully, has hope in our ability to climb it together.
Amanda Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate, spoke a poem for our times, acknowledging our struggles but describing us as “a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.”
“We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free.”
The poem, The Hill We Climb, describes the journey we’ve been on and the one we have before us.
Writing about mental health in the midst of a pandemic has helped me see how we are all climbing in our own ways and at our own pace, and how we are all, as Gorman puts it, “bruised but whole.”
Like our nation, we aren’t broken, simply unfinished.
Whatever hill you’re climbing, I hope you assert your ability to prevail over it. Better still, I hope you reach behind you and offer the next person a hand up, even as you continue climbing.
Ultimately, we’ll all meet again at the top.