Silver linings

We’ve all been hoping for a silver lining recently. There’s been that much rain and hardly a glimmer of silver.  And I’ve always been someone who looks for the silver lining, but I’m not sure that looking for it helps. The trouble is we all want the bad times to be over; weather, recession, poverty and the other tribulations. Our natural human instinct is to look for possibilities that might be hopeful or that might lead to something better.  Even if it’s only a totally meaningless sign.  For example first thing in the morning if I can empty the ashes from the woodburner and then light the fire before the kettle has finally clicked off then I think maybe today will be, what, lucky, auspicious, hopeful? Little glimmers of hope. This is not a good way to live.

Living hopefully carries such a burden when the hoped-for doesn’t happen. I’ve tried to stop looking and just try to deal with the deluges, but it is really hard. Even the phrase ‘living without hope’ sounds so desperate, so finally, pessimistically acceptant that there’s nothing good out there.  But the more I think about it the more I feel it would be better to live without hope, to just be in the present, mindful of what is happening now and only now, not looking to the future, dealing with life like in TS Eliot’s Wasteland, ‘If all time is eternally present, all time is unredeemable’.  I’m never sure whether he thought that was a good idea.  But I do know it’s the hope that kills.  If only we could just stop hoping.

There are six old guys at the Big House who have been helping me with the garden.  Mostly with types of autism and Asperger’s.  They stopped looking for the silver lining a long time ago.  You can see that in their eyes.  They have been a lifetime in institutions and giving them hope might be threatening to the stability of the organisation. So the regime surreptitiously discourages hope and that means that there is a huge battle to engage them to get them out to help in the garden. But I think they deserve more than they have at the moment.  They have meals provided, a warm room of their own, washing and laundry facilities, so the basics at the lowest level of the needs triangle are there.  But there’s little else, and even some of the basics are only just that. 

Last Saturday I’d organised it so they came and helped me in the garden for a couple of hours.  We cleared out the largest greenhouse and emptied overgrown pots and seed trays.  They worked hard and seemed to enjoy doing something practical.  At the end I suggested a cup of tea.  They showed me their facilities.  A room with a kettle.  No mugs, teaspoons, teabags, milk or sugar and definitely no hope. I didn’t make any comments but they were obviously both embarrassed that they couldn’t offer me a cup of tea and angry that there was nothing provided.  I didn’t pursue it further but made a mental note to get the makings together for them next week.  But I’ve to be careful not to stir up a revolution of hope in the Big House!

If you like silver linings in films then see Silver Linings Playbook.  A lovely heart warming feel good movie about recovering from mental illness.  Some sensational performances and a story that will fill you full of hope. A great soundtrack and some very funny scenes.  Jennifer Lawrence won the Best Actress Oscar and she is stunning in it.

Only please be careful as it is only a film and if like me you’re a sucker for a good narrative and tend to relive stories you have enjoyed then this one will creep up on you, as it has for me, and make me imagine there might be something worth hoping for.  Big mistake of course.  There’s no silver lining and if you think there is then it’s an illusion and just the reflection of the exploding sun. Eight minutes away and closing fast.

Far better not to live in hope but live like the guys in the Big House realising there’s no point in hoping for a free cup of tea because there isn’t such a thing and the sooner we all realise that the better.

A bit down from a road near you,

Mr Alexander

Mr Alexander