“Hope is the thing with feathers –
that perches in the soul –
and sings the tunes without the words –
and never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson
Those lines form one of my favorite stanzas by Dickinson or anyone really, not for the meter, the rhythm or the rhyme, not for the way the thought is said at all, but for the thought itself, the meaning behind the words.
I’ve been a positive person as long as I can remember. Spending most days with a smile that comes from an appreciation that’s difficult to describe. I’m a genuinely happy guy.
I joke sometimes and say I’ve had an octogenarian’s outlook on each new day ever since I was thirteen and nearly died. But it’s not really a joke. I spent each day over the next four years (my entire time in high school) absolutely terrified that my time had run out, and every night when I went to bed I was palpably afraid that would be the end, which is also why I greeted each new day profoundly thankful for another chance.
I’ve been praised for my outlook, and thanked by those around me who have drawn on my positive energy, and ridiculed by some of the latter as well.
“People who smile all the time,” I’ve been told, “are just putting on a face for others, hiding the pain and the frustrations of life.” Well, I suppose if one pretends there is no pain and that there are no frustrations, then that might be true. Except, I’ve found that choosing to acknowledge the pain and frustration to myself, assessing what things I can change and what things just are the way they are, and then approaching the moment with an attitude of hope, that is the reason I tend to smile.
And, most days, most of the time, no one else needs to be made aware of my pain or my frustrations.
Anyone who truly knows me also understands, that’s part of the reason I write. I see the darkness. I feel it emphatically. I am a very empathetic person, too much so, perhaps. And I’m also a very sensitive person when it comes to the struggles of others.
Read one thing I’ve written and you’ll get it. I focus on the shadows, the storms, the unpleasantness of the human condition in nearly every poem, in every single piece of prose. But, I do so from the perspective of hope.
I’m that way in my relationships, that way with my work, and also with my dreams though I did put those on hold for a long time. I believe that hope is an essential ingredient when it comes to making dreams a reality.