Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 10:08:28 -0400 (EDT)
Random Thought: Hopeless! Hopeless?

Yesterday morning, I received a dark, what I call a "whew" message from a virtual colleague. "Exhausted" and depressed from end-of-the-term testing and grading rituals, he needed a sympathetic ear and shoulder to talk about his litany of semester travails. "It all seems so hopeless and pointless," he wrote as a summarizing moan because of the large number of low grades he had assigned his students. "Do you ever feel that way?" he asked.

Do I!! What a time for that question to come at me. Lucky for me that it did. I needed it, and didn't even realize it. Goodness, I told him that I know exactly how he feels. I felt it periodically while I struggled to relinquish control and let the students control the development of the play. I've been down and out with a bad bout of it for the last two weeks. I recently have been hitting tall and thick brick wall after brick wall after brick wall: personal walls, business walls, financial walls, and one educational wall. That educational wall, a project with which I am involved with that seems to have impossible deadlines, impossible goals, impossibly meager resources, was the icing on the inedible cake. There have already been more than a few times, at this early stage of the project, and in a few other matters, when I have been fumbling around, have been groping for a handle on something, that I, too, have sighed to myself, to my Susan, and to a few colleagues, "It's so damn hopeless."

But, this morning, a lot came together: a chat with an administrative colleague yesterday, listening to an uplifting telephone message from my wife's e-commerce business, talking with one of her "downliners," and that e-mail message.

That curse word, "hopeless," seeing it before my eyes in that blessed message really brought things to home. I, the hopeless hope-oholic, had been saying the same things about many things and letting it ravage me--and not realizing it.

This morning I did a butt-kicking re-inventory of myself. I realized I was feeling self-pity, that my feelings for which I was blaming other people and things were really rooted in my own imperfections, that I was being my own master bricklayer succumbing more to my fears than rising to the challenges.

Yeah, I know how that person feels, and have been feeling that way lately. But, I have found once again that the second I uttered that blasphemy, I cursed myself with self-fulfilling prophesy. I had stuck myself in the shaded valley instead of climbing up the mountainside to the sun-drenched summit. I wanted to hang it up rather than hang on. Unable or unwilling to grapple, I crippled myself. As I thought things were going to the dogs, I started disengaging in dogged pursuit. I succumbed to giving in or giving up instead of giving. I felt like I was fair game instead of being game.

I have noticed that each time I got a touch of that vicious bug, that spirit-infection of hopeless, I felt exhausted and defeated. That soul-sickness drained me, sapped my energy, stiffened my movements and thoughts. Ever notice that there is something dreary, dull, pale, tiresome about this affliction. Looking back, I could feel a flood of dulling endorphins diluting my alerting adrenalin. I felt I was harbored in the confines of a bare, rocky, uninviting cove under an every growing dismally grey, cloudy sky, the mooring chain growing larger, the anchor get heavier and going deeper into the sticky mud. At best, I felt as if I was bouncing to the incessant, little ripples in a sleep-inducing, monotonous rhythm instead of knowing the excitement of riding the waves beneath a bright and warm sun, and feeling the exhilarating wind in my face and tasting the salty sea spray of a vast, unlimited ocean .

This pernicious affliction blurs your vision, kills your appetite, takes the life out of you. It strips you of the belief its possible to do something: you can't imagine "what if;" you can't dream "maybe;" you can't think "it's possible;" you can't feel "it will happen;" you can't wonder "what will this person do." Gone are the positives, possibilities, inspirations, purposes, potentials, creations, and expectations simply because you can't expect anything to grow unless you plant a seed.

Talking about seeds, there is in my backyard, at the edge of my heavily shaded patio, an eye-catching white pineapple geranium growing tall and majestic in full bloom. What makes it special is that this plant is only supposed to thrive in full sun. It was the last of many cuttings I had planted last autumn. I had no room for it in the sunny front yard. So, rather than throw it on the compost heap, I just carelessly stuck it in the ground in my back yard with a casual "nothing to lose" and nonchalant "let's see." I countered the shade with planting a bunch of potassium bearing rotting banana peels around the cutting and a watering with heavy doses of a nitrogen releasing beer concoction. Lo and behold! It rooted, grew, and flourished. Who would have thought!!

Imagine if then, as I recently had just done with a lot of other things and people, I had allowed what I had thought I can't do to define what I can do. Realizing that, I will fight back this debilitating disease by fortifying myself daily vitamin supplements of "belief," "faith," and "hope." You see, I much prefer the feeling and fulfilling results of being an energetic "hope-along" rather than a tired "hobble-along" Louis. I don't have to be positively right, but I do have to be positively positive. That's the way of being energetic, enabling, self-empowered, versatile. imaginative, and accomplished.

It is a very good lesson to learn and remember. And I am better for having experienced it.

Make it a good day. 


Louis Schmier           
Department of History    
Valdosta State University
Valdosta, GA  31698                        /~\    /\ /\
912-333-5947                       /^\    /   \  /  /~ \     /~\__/\
                                  /   \__/     \/  /     /\ /~      \
                            /\/\-/ /^\___\______\_______/__/_______/^\
                          -_~     /  "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\
                             _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -\____

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