On feathered things

Some big changes are afoot. One such change is no longer being employed at the company that almost captured a decade of my life. It’s good to calibrate and sometimes re-calibrate along the journey. I remember graduating from school and thinking I would be overseas in six months. Eight years later, this is not where I would have expected myself, let alone, expected myself to be happy.

Have you ever been prone to give up? Equal parts dreamer and realist, depending on the moment and the day, I walk that tightrope of belief and disbelief. Lately, or more specifically 2008 on, I have encountered many people around me giving up. Hands in the air. Stamped resumes filling in-boxes. The recession has definitely played a part in that buzz kill. Complacency founded in fear cripples more than it builds up. And so, hope can either be the bird that chirps the unknown mystery inside of you aloud or the feathered thing flying into the room that must be shot.

Enter Emily Dickinson’s poem “254”. In it, she introduces “hope” as the “thing with feathers”. I can almost hear each of the stanzas as music: 1: major keys, bright, sunny // 2: minor keys introduced, an extended sweep across a soprano violin contrasts the crash and boom of deep piano keys // 3: violin pizzicato to the finality of chords held on a half note.

I wonder that hope is not something easily held onto. It’s much easier to let go of it because sometimes its surface is chilled and other times hot sand. How does hope play out in today’s world as a gritty counterpart to its childish reputation? Hope costs and the cost of hope deferred, as a proverb has said, “makes the heart sick.” This begs the question, “is hope worth it?” As life is meant to be lived in full hue, hope is the necessary void sometimes lacking from our lives. It gives the outline to the right now by separating it from what could be. Hope requires tenacity and a firmness of spirit which belies the lightness of the word itself.

Moving into a new position and a new year of life, I’m choosing a new lease on life: one imbued with hope.

Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers-
That perches in the soul-
And sings the tune without the words-
And never stops- at all-

And sweetest- in the Gale- is heard-
And sore must be the storm-
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm-

I’ve heard it in the chillest land-
And on the strangest Sea-
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb- of Me.

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