I know I said I would blog every other Monday, but very occasionally, I might sneak in an ODD FRIDAY. Don't worry. This will be short. And sorry, no pictures this time around.
Like most of you, I am devastated by the events of Tuesday evening and am caught in a cycle of grief, despair, and fear. For myself and my family. For all the people I love. For all Americans who are not able-bodied, straight, white men. For the environment. For goodwill itself. But last night, as I was reshelving some books in my office, a copy of JEREMY CABBAGE fell off my desk and landed open to a scene I had forgotten I'd written.
A fifth-grader's illustration of the tattooed hand of Lexi from Jeremy Cabbage
Toward the end of the book, the eponymous hero is finally reunited with Polly, the older girl who acted as his mother when they were both on the streets. Jeremy has been searching for her from the time the wicked Baron's secret police separated them in a raid while on the abandoned library (aka the Licreeary), where they lived. While overjoyed to be with Polly again, Jeremy is also disappointed that it was she who found him, rather than otherwise.
"You recognized me," he said, "but I didn't recognize you."
"So don't you see? During all the time we were apart, I was sure that I would find you, that I would find you and rescue you. Just like the heroes [they'd read about] in the Licreeary."
For a moment, Polly said nothing.
"You kept a steadfast heart, Jeremy," she finally answered. "That's heroic enough for me."
Polly is, of course, talking about Hope. (Intentional caps there.) You can't maintain a steadfast heart without it.
Last night, as I reread these few lines, written over ten years ago, their implied responsibility began to sink through my thick skull. If I had put this out for children, then isn't it incumbent upon me to live up to them? If I don't, well, I guess I'm nothing more than a charlatan.
So, in spite of how the world looks today, I have to summon up Hope. And a lot of it. Hope, after all, is for the hopeless situation, right? Otherwise, why have the word at all?
The difficulty is that Hope takes courage. A lot of it. I'm not a brave person, but I'm going to find that courage because there's no other choice. Yes! I'm going to hope. For myself. For all the people I love. For all Americans, including those who felt so angry and afraid that they put their hopes in someone like DT. For the environment. And for goodwill itself.
But I'm realistic. I know that Hope alone isn't enough. It requires action. What that action might be for me isn't entirely clear yet. Certainly, working with like-minded (and perhaps otherwise-minded(?)) people for a better, more equitable world, will be a part of that. I see some civil disobedience in my future, too.
And I'm going to continue to write. Currently, I have a picture book that has been rejected somewhere around fifteen times. (You heard me! Fifteen!) But today, I'm gonna pull that ms. out and get to work. It's a poem in the voice of a child wondering if there are other people like her. She discovers that there are.