|Tromsø, Norway; 200 miles north of|
the Arctic Circle (photo: Bo Eide*)
Then why keep picking litter off the beach, writing stories, trying? Because there's a difference between losing hope and giving in to despair. Despair is paralysis. Despair is also extremely arrogant -- it presumes that we can know with certainty that our actions are useless. Despair is Denethor, throwing himself onto a pyre rather than face a future that to him can only be black & bleak.
I'd rather cast in my lot with Theoden, riding headlong into overwhelming odds because it's simply the right thing to do.
That sounds like bluster. But, in truth, it's the opposite. It's deep humility. For all that I think I know, and think I've learned, I don't know how the story ends. So I do what I do because I love my daughter and I think the world is beautiful and I want to preserve it. It's my path.
And there is a strange freedom & clarity that comes from leaving both hope & despair behind. It's re-energizing. "Hoping" puts the burden on someone else. "Doing" puts the burden -- the control -- in my own hands. So no, I can't change the world. But I can change my part of it. And no, I can't make it better forever. But I can make it better for today. This one moment when the beach is deserted and the gulls are crying and the surf is pounding and the breeze is carrying salt on the air... and the sand is clean.
And it just might stay clean long enough for the next lonely wanderer to look down. And notice.
Sometimes, the point isn't to do the right thing because you hope or think something awesome will come from it. It's because, it's the right thing. And because "even the wise cannot see all ends." As I've witnessed, the actions of one person have a funny way of reaching beyond them in ways & times most unexpected.
I have ideas, plans, contacts, and goals for 2012. I'm going to expand my work, meet new people, do what I can, and increase what I can do. Not because I have hope, but because I don't despair.
* For more images in and around Tromsø, please check out Bo Eide's fabulous blog: Life Up North; this image (saved originally from Facebook) comes from this post: http://lifeupnorth.posterous.com/collecting-marine-litter-above-the-arctic-cir