I won't write about Mary's experience getting her driver's license on Tuesday. The emotions of a teen and the manifestations of performance anxiety are very, very interesting to me and you might benefit from hearing about them, but ultimately, those stories don't belong to me anymore. What I can say, is that we can do things, and important things, even under the worst of circumstances. I told her, I have had big performances where my hands were dripping with sweat and my heart was racing and my leg was shaking and guess what? You can actually do the thing you worked so hard for even under these physical symptoms. The moment it is over you feel quite glorious and victorious.
I shouldn't write about Calvin's frustrations with online college continuing even as the covid numbers zero out. The lessons in tolerance completely outweigh anything anyone could ever learn in academia. Calvin has earned a PhD in tolerance at college during covid.
"The highest result of education is tolerance. Long ago men fought and died for their faith; but it took ages to teach them the other kind of courage, -- the courage to recognize the faiths of their brethren and their rights of conscience. Tolerance is the first principle of community; it is the spirit which conserves the best that all men think."
Whose quote? Helen Keller. My new favorite author. Can you believe that? Published in 1903.
I'm reading her essays on optimism. I've highlighted every single paragraph.
"If I am happy in spite of my deprivations, if my happiness is so deep that it is a faith, so thoughtful that it becomes a philosophy of life, -- if, in short, I am an optimist, my testimony to the creed of optimism is worth hearing. As sinners stand up in meeting and testify to the goodness of God, so one who is called afflicted may rise up in gladness of conviction and testify to the goodness of life." Page. 87
I feel an internal optimism starting to spill out of my heart. We have almost made it through this pandemic and we have not lost a year of our lives, but on the contrary, we have had a very rich year.
"I distrust the rash optimism in this country that cries, "Hurrah, we're all right! This is the greatest nation on earth," when there are grievances that call loudly for redress. That is false optimism. Optimism that does not count the cost is like a house builded on sand. A man must understand evil and be acquainted with sorrow before he can write himself an optimist and expect others to believe that he has reason for the faith that is in him." Page 89.
Again, published in 1903.
It's been almost 365 days since the first lockdown. Yes, there have been losses of life and health and experiences. But there has been great progress. Family time. The piano kids all kept growing in musicianship. Bill finished one job and started another. I hiked in Colorado. Bill and Mary saw Zion and Bryce. We snuck a weekend to Wisconsin with almost the whole family. We got to have weekends with Sam. Calvin performed an amazing program for his sophomore recital in the Voxman Recital Hall. My garden had the best year ever. We had an over the top Christmas season. I've made new some new friends along the path. It was still, a very good year.
If Helen Keller can testify, so I am lifted to proclaim a little springtime optimism. Optimism can be contagious too.
In a world where it seems like it's not okay to be okay, I'm ready to come out a little. We are okay. We never let fear get the best of us. It wasn't that everything was perfect, it's not that we never melted down. It's that after the meltdown our faith still served us and still lifts us to a higher place. We aren't governed by covid. We never were. We can float above the news and the statistics and the graphs. We get to just be happy and try to let our optimism be contagious.
"I trust, and nothing that happens disturbs my trust. I recognize the beneficence of the power which we all worship as supreme--Order, Fate, the Great Spirit, Nature, God. I recognize this power in the sun that make all things grow and keeps life afoot. I make a friend of this indefinable force, and straightway I feel glad, brave, and ready for any lot Heaven may decree for me. This is my religion of optimism." Page 91.