You may declare some things with confidence. Run the numbers, analyze the data, and conclude earmarks and lobbying influence congress, for instance (as done by Cooper et al. on Section 508 legislation), or that trial overall survival adds incremental value over trial surrogates alone in real world populations for cancer (as done by Shafrin et al.). Yet most things are fraught with uncertainty – the future, our country, my commitments, you name it. That being said, we can also be certain of some things and be completely wrong (not always right but never in doubt, obv). Like when I thought this dog wouldn’t mind being snuggled at a bar. He did.
In that doggo’s defense, I was extra aggressive with the holding that day.
I’m generally of the belief that inaction due to uncertainty (or in any case, really) perpetuates the status quo and breeds insecurity, opting instead to embrace Rebecca Solnit’s proactive definition of hope:
“To hope is to gamble. It’s to bet on the future, on your desires, on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty is better than gloom and safety. To hope is dangerous, and yet it is the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk. I say all this because hope is not like a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. I say it because hope is an ax you break down doors with in an emergency; because hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth’s treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal. Hope just means another world might be possible, not promised, not guaranteed. Hope calls for action; action is impossible without hope.”
Scrolling Twitter and reading news about terror attacks a mile from my apartment leaves me feeling disillusion and contempt. When I further consider that it’s been a rough month for women, my confidence in society falters. However, I admire the women who have taken action and spoken out despite running the risk of being discredited or targeted.
I recently acquiesced to the idea that in uncertain times, hope may also be passive. A friend (AB) who’s a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique challenged Solnit’s quote in her monthly newsletter last month. She cited the direct translation for “hope” in Portuguese is “to wait,” and added that without the difference between hoping and waiting, hoping for the people in Mozambique seems to be more about waiting things out. AB proposed that passiveness isn’t always weak, it can be optimistic. And she’s not wrong. Perhaps self-preservation through hope can be both the act of courage and the patient wait – it’s a matter of context.
Given life begins anew (or at least I come alive) in the fall, and “to live is to risk,” I remain hopeful we can do better. It probably also helps that I went home for the first time in 8 months last weekend: California, the name of the Grimes song from which this blog post borrowed its name. (“You only like me when you think I’m looking sad,” seriously listen to it now.)
Why did I fly 5.5-hours for a weekend trip? A friend’s Malibu nuptials. He is among the most joyful and well-meaning people I know and has introduced me to a few New Yorkers I begrudgingly care about.
In classic SEM form, I’d forgotten how much I loved Los Angeles because its distance from my home in New York fades the memory. The problem is after a bite of an In-N-Out burger, Keith Moon snuggle, and pumpkin patch trek with NRM, I knew I’d actively miss Los Angeles for a few weeks. I suppose one could have worse problems.
This weekend, IJJ runs the NYC marathon. I’m writing about it because she has a negligible online presence, but I am BEAMING with pride for my favorite Connecticut bb and want everyone to know how much COOLER is she than me. Come join me as I scream her name until my lungs collapse.
Thx 4 the memories LA. Love u, mean it~