-as published in Living Out East and On the Bay http://www.livingouteast.com
Mimi Fingers has gone on a 30 day fast. A news media fast: no TV, no newspapers, no news radio, no internet news. Our entire neighborhood (Palm Heights, elevation 14’) is talking about it. She says the reason is that she’s losing her capacity for hope.
“Why not try a fast?,” she asked. “The news depresses me. I’ve always been a social, positive, hopeful person. Now I’m not. This I don’t like in myself. I hope it’s temporary. I don’t know what else to do.”
“We need to talk with Mimi”, said Brown Eyes, my dear wife and the reigning queen of what is known at our house as Pronoun Dysfunction (when she says “we” she really means “you” as in “We have something you need to do.”).
As a highly attuned husband I have an ear trained for pronoun switcheroo. So I dutifully went next door to the Fingers and rang the bell.
Joe Fingers, Mimi’s husband, opened the door and said “I suppose you are here to interview Mimi about her news media fast. Good luck. I think she’s nuts. Nothing wrong with her that finding something to fix wouldn’t cure.”
Mimi, ever the gracious hostess, invited me to sit down for a cup of tea (with lots of milk, just the way I like it).
She said, “I’ve been thinking a lot about how important hope has been in my life, something to look forward to that would make a difference for me or others, a special vacation, happy lives for my kids, happy aging for my parents. Sure I’ve had fears: my children getting injured or wandering into drugs; Joe being unhappy; my grand children living too far away; losing my memory. But I’ve always been hopeful.
Hope is where I have gotten my energy. For Joe hope is easy: find something and fix it every day. He is a mechanical genius. He can fix anything. Joe has a simple formula: look forward to finding something wrong and create a solution, then implement. When he runs out of things to fix at our house he starts in with the neighbors’ houses. Some people in our neighborhood dread his arrival at their door, but let’s admit he’s a hopeful guy - often oblivious with a strong need to be right - but hopeful.
Now I’m getting older and so is Joe. I am fearful about our money and our health and where the country is going. I fear that major political parties will never care more about the healthy future of our country than about being re-elected. I fear that global climate change means greater extremes of cold and hot and crop failure. I fear that we’ll never be able to separate honoring and supporting all our military from our blind support of any given “war”. I worry about what world I am leaving to my grandchildren. I worry about the condition of the institutions I’ve depended upon.
I’m not willing to give up hope and its importance in my life After 50. I just don’t know where to go with it. I’m not crushed by my fears. I simply don’t know how to handle them at the moment. You can do me a favor. Go home and write a column. Ask your readers to tell us where they are getting their hopes After 50 and what forms the hopes are taking. Ask them what they fear After 50 and how they are managing the fear so the fear doesn’t manage them. Then come back and talk to me about it.”
“How did it go?” Brown Eyes asked when I returned home. “Ask me later,” I said. “Right now I need to go write a column for Mimi.”
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Talk to you soon, George