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What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

Original post made by Norm, Midtown, on Nov 1, 2010

There have been a few folks on my butt about getting this around....

There's a bit of a back story, but.........

What I Learned on My Summer Vacation - Hope

“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
Václav Havel (b. 1936), Czech playwright, president. Disturbing the Peace, ch. 5 (1986; tr. 1990).

One of the more thought provoking experiences I had in DC was after the sessions of the Catholic Charities Centennial {Sept 25-28} were wrapped up and our visits to the Hill fulfilled.

I wandered off on my own to decompress – to not think for purpose, about purpose, or even on purpose. Kinda like why the concert Tuesday night was a great idea, relieve the pressure, intensity of the previous few days.

I took a walk down the Mall with the intent of seeing the various memorials dedicated to military personnel. (Unfortunately, the Marine Corps one with Ira Hayes is at Arlington Cemetery, couldn’t get there.) Something I just felt I had to do, but that’s another story....

When I got near the Washington Monument, I decided to swing up the hill and touch it, jus’ ‘cus then I could say so. I took a moment (gasp, gasp) and sat on a bench facing west toward the Lincoln Memorial. (Smoked 40 years, only stopped 2 ago.)

As I looked across the vista, I recalled the there was a commemoration of the “I Had a Dream” speech recently (checked it out – a month to the day), the historic pictures of the crowd from Lincoln, and how important the space has been since then to so many people. I could also see the World War II Memorial at the near end of the Reflecting Pool – and it’s meaning to our country, and others (kinda like King’s speech).

Between me and WWII was a huge lawn area with some kids (apparently part of four or five independent but cohesive family units – the cynic speaks) flying kites.

The breeze was really kind of stiff, but they were givin’ their best shot. I saw a couple of crashes, but they launched again. Their day seemed more focused on courage and hope than fatigue and frustration; like we had done the past few days.

That alone is enough to “give one pause” (I’ll skip the cat jokes).

Anyone local here, paying attention, knows I do an earbud kinda 24/7, usually news/talk, but it may be music. While I tried to catch up with myself, the radio station I had going in my ear played “Imagine” by John Lennon.

Some might take it as a poke in the gut – or a smack in the head – to contemplate future promise, tormented past, and the struggle in between within a single blend of thought.

I wished I had a camera. But it would only have caught the view, not the image.

My head was filled with thoughts of the multitude of hard fought battles, wars not won, shifting arenas – and those who soldier on anyway in spite of it all. Some of it/them from a remote past, some the people we had breakfast with yesterday recounting our fights. And planning our unified charge at tomorrow’s windmills. Lead on Sancho!! (If know Cervantes, you know what I mean. If not, just get the Cliff Notes.)

In spite (or perhaps because) of where and what I’ve been, you’ve been, they’ve been, where and what the World has been... kids still try flying kites. And launch them again and again, crash after crash. Regardless of the wind, or its lack. With one more try even when it’s broken.

If we meet just a fragment of our self-expectations, we can reach further than we will ever know, touch more than we can ever see. But only if we are pushing out, not sucking in.

Anyway, that’s my hope.

“Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.”
Elie Wiesel (b. 1928), Rumanian-born U.S. writer. Nobel lecture, Oslo, 11 Dec. 1986.


10 01 2010
Norman Carroll, Palo Alto, CA

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