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Looking Down the Barrel & Finding Hope

looking down barrel photo

Camp Sumter near Andersonville GA was the largest of several military prisons established by the Confederacy during the Civil War. Even in the remote location small earthen forts around the exterior of the prison were equipped with artillery like the cannon in the photo to put down disturbances within the compound and to defend against Union cavalry attacks. Copyright by WyoJones. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

There are days when getting out of bed is an act of courage. Now when I think about what I could be facing—wars, pestilence, Mother Nature—waking with a cold is not a huge tragedy. It sucks, of course, but no, not a tragedy. One of our kids’ favorite books was Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are by Dr. Seuss. The whole book is about all the problems you could have, but don’t. Waking up with a cold is much better, for instance, than life as a “rusty tin coat hanger hanging in space.”

But what about those days when thinking positive just isn’t helping? When you’d rather be the rusty coat hanger?

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been accused of being an optimist. I don’t actually think that’s an accurate description of me. I think I’m a hope-timist. If you’re around me for too long, you’ll probably hear me say, “Well, we live in hope.” says hope is “to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence” or “to believe, desire or trust.”

The thing is, I know that life is hard. That it Happens. A Lot. I am figuring out (reluctantly), that as I get older, it will is likely to get harder when I’d sort of hoped it would get easier, or at least simpler. Now I’m just hoping I can survive aging with a reasonable amount of dignity, cuz I have “reasonable confidence” that I’m not going to survive old age.

I was browsing through one of my comfort reads the other day and found this tucked between the pages:


I hadn’t read that book for seven years. Just seeing the appointment sheet—most of the appts for ONE day—knocked me painfully back into that moment, into that time.

August 9, 2007 was not what I’d call a good day. Doctors had discovered a mass in my 22 year old son’s chest and this was just the first of many tests that would lead to a cancer diagnosis.

Yeah, that was not a good day.

And then I thought about where we are now. My son is alive, happily married, and the father of the twins (#TheGrandmaProject).

Then. Now.

Back then it was hope-timism (and tons of support from family and friends) that got us through the six months that followed. But I remember every day feeling endless. About how long that six months seemed when we were looking down its barrel.

And now? Boom. It’s seven years later and everything has changed. Everything. And it feels like the time went by in the blink of an eye.

Someone asked me right after our adventure with cancer, what I’d learned from it. I can remember thinking, “Learned? That I don’t want to ever do this again.”

I have a bit better perspective now. Seeing that appointment reminded me that life isn’t static. That I can feel stuck in time, but I’m not actually stuck. Neal Maxwell (one of my favorite speakers) once compared challenges to being caught in the surf. That “even as we tumble we are somehow being carried forward…”

Some things just take time for our circumstances to change, and sometimes it takes us time to change enough to change our circumstances. Even if it feels like nothing is changing, it is. We might just need a little distance, a better perspective to see that change.

And that’s where the hope-timism comes in. I’ve learned from past challenges that present challenges—and present joys—won’t last forever. That if I keep going forward—or tumbling forward—things will change. So I try to savor the joys and learn from the challenges.

I try to keep living the Life that keeps Happening right now. A Lot.

Are you a hope-timist, optimist or pessimist? How do you manage when Life Happens to you? You know comments are entered into my monthly drawing for an AnaBanana gift basket ($25 value). I announce a winner the first blog post of the new month. 🙂

AnaBanana logo

Perilously yours,

One of my most “hope-timistic” characters is Sara from The Key.

The Key is a huge, sprawling space opera of a book, so be prepared to wallow in the pleasure of exploring this universe for a good long time. Emphasis on both “good” and “long”.” Science Fiction Romance Quarterly

the Key cover art

New cover for THE KEY!

You can buy The Key right now, either alone or in Top Guns in Time and Space. It’s also available in audio.

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