Eight years ago I wrote this:
November 4th, 2008
Walking my dog under streetlights—this night—
like every other night, except
the last of the leaves sleep on the asphalt,
hushed like wet cardboard boxes and old news-
papers after too much downpour. Clouds clear
to a cold night sky through the now
bare boughs, both the streetlamps and starlight shine
in hope’s space, even as temperatures fall.
I remember the moment well. I was walking around the park next to my house in Logan, UT. It was dark, and a storm had just passed as Chico and I rambled around and we sighed some sense of relief, some sense of the eight prior years being over. Stars were emerging after a storm and looking out to space, looking out to light from stars that have already long gone extinct, looking at light hopelessly traveling across an abyss where the origins of that same light has fizzled and gone, puts all things into perspective for me. The eight years to follow that lead up to now have been unpredictable, confusing, lonely, frustrating, and enlightening too. I have travelled and loved and lost and hurt and laughed and been with most of you.
Today, soon, I will walk into my sustainability class with my first-year students and try to keep being positive about how we come together to try and make the world more sustainable. I am not sure exactly what I will do. I have tried to hold this space of hope for them each and every day. I will still try. Last night, I sat with students who worked all semester trying to get people informed and excited to vote. They made posters about the propositions, and posters about the different candidates, and created forums about their stances on issues. They put on a huge event where they helped get people informed. For many students, it is their first election. For almost all of them, it is there first presidential election. Last night, we turned on the news on twelve different monitors that covered the political gamut from FOX, to CNN, to Al Jazeera, to Univision, and more. We watched together as the results came in. There was a lot of silence in the room.
I’ve tried so hard to hold hope’s space over the last eight years...years where wars didn’t end, years where inequities didn’t get better, years where CO2 increased, years where extinction rates spiked, years where hate and separation has grown and culminated into this. I know we persist. I know we will come together and find ways to fight to protect people and the earth. I know we won’t give up. I know we won’t really run away.
Tonight, I will go watch the sunset like I always do. Feel the earth spin again and know that this won’t end, not yet. In parts of the world, kids fear blue skies because that is when drones come out. In parts of the world, the sun is cracking the mud of empty lakebeds. In parts of the world, parents send their kids off and hope they will be safe, but have no guarantee. In parts of the world, people flee wars and bombing and extremists. In too many parts of this world, women don’t have equal rights. And right now, right where I am, my life is easy. There won’t be any big immediate change, but I feel it. Because when I watch the earth spin away from our sun I can’t help but understand how fragile it all is, and how much we are all on this little rock spinning in space together. And the stars will emerge again and there will be that light that I see that has travelled across the ages, light that is billions of years old just now at this exact moment entering into my eye, processed in my brain, and emotions will emerge. Memories will be pulled from my own past, a past that doesn’t exist either anymore. I will be thinking of you all because I have found that hope isn’t out in the world, it is in you.