They say where there’s life there’s hope.
My father, the professional counselor, always says it’s just the opposite – “where there’s hope there’s life.”
Either way, neither thing seems to apply to any of us right now.
None of us have much of a life and a lot of us are losing our hope.
Maybe it started with making new plans for the new year, then remembering the dark cloud hanging over our collective heads. Maybe it has been watching the last, best hope for mankind and individual freedom completely implode right before my eyes. Maybe it’s just the dehumanizing mask I have to wear everywhere I go.
Maybe it’s the fact that someone, somewhere is going to read that last sentence and rip into me on some well-meaning person’s comments thread, about how masks are not dehumanizing, in fact they are SAVING the human race and anyone who feels differently about them is part of the problem, bladity blah, freaking blah…massive head shake and eyes rolling so far back in my head I can literally see the conflicts crackling in my frontal lobe – and it turns into a 40-comment back-and-forth re-litigation of Trump and Biden and your-guys-looted-yeah-but-your-guys-stormed-the-Capitol-those-weren’t-our-guys-were-too-nuh uh-watch-this-video-you’re-part-of-the-problem-no-YOUR-part-of-the-problem-by-the-way-it’s-YOU’RE-not-YOUR…mic drop. Snooze. Unfollow.
And that ends a 17-year friendship.
Maybe it’s mandatory vaccinations. Maybe it’s big tech companies silencing people they don’t like. Maybe it’s the fact that small business loans, using TAX dollars, are about to be prioritized based on raw-knuckle, abject racism.
Maybe it’s the fact that congress is about to spend TAX dollars to impeach a president who has 7 days left in office.
Maybe it’s the fact that I now know that every athlete, on every sports team, on TV, hates my guts because I still love the flag and the anthem and the country. And I can’t un-know that.
Or maybe it’s because I’m starting to question all that love for all those traditions, because I have no idea where the hell I’m living anymore.
Maybe it’s all of this turmoil boiling over, but I don’t have much hope right now. And I don’t think I’m alone.
When I start dreaming about the future or planning for the family or even sketching out the following week, I run into all of these weird speed bumps I’ve never run into before.
I make a living primarily as a performer. Normally, by this time in any given January, I would’ve already done my first show in Vegas. That show has closed down and will probably never re-open. Then, I start thinking about what other shows I might do.
I do (or used to do) corporate events. Do they even do those anymore? I occasionally play churches. Are those even allowed to legally be open?
Then, I start thinking about the actual shows themselves. What would they even look like, now?
Shows are things people get dressed up for. They go to work, maybe hit the gym, shower, shave, preen, curl, spray, then put on the nice jeans and the sharp blazer, or the new dress and cute shoes, then go out for the evening. Sometimes they’re going to see me.
I love looking at all the faces from stage. I search for the smiles. I think about how every single person in the audience is headed somewhere in their life. I wonder if they’re getting there or if they’re giving up. And I hope that I can help them in some small way before my time on the stage is up.
Now, if there’s a show at all, it would be a room full of masked strangers, sitting roughly 6 feet apart, trying not to laugh too loudly or or clap too intensely or breathe too much.
And at the moment, the gathering of a crowd would, in and of itself, be a controversy anyway.
Why are so many people turning to alcohol and drugs? Why not? What else is there to do?
Why are suicides up 200%? Maybe, when you actually think about all the things you can no longer do – and may never be allowed to again – that one thing that was keeping you from ending it all anyway, is no longer there. And the great unknown suddenly rises to the best option.
Why buy clothes anymore, if we can’t go out? Why get in shape if there’s no place to look good or feel good and there’s no one allowed to share in the journey?
Why fall in love? Why have children? Why buy a new car? You can’t drive it anywhere.
I know that Covid will eventually run its course and things will settle into some sort of normalcy. But maybe our collective sense of dread is based in what that will look like.
Will masks be mandatory from here on out? Covid or no Covid? It’s easy to think, “No way, man. We’ll get back to where we were,” until you factor in the deep and fundamental debates we’ve been having.
Who told us masks were effective in the first place? The same people who originally told us they weren’t. But everything in our lives has become so politically charged that once being pro-mask became a virtue signal from one side and being anti-mask was virtue signal from the other side, actual science had to take a back seat.
And who knows what viruses are always lurking around us all the time, anyway? Is it that far of a stretch to believe that there are leaders who would be completely comfortable with a mask mandate henceforth and forevermore? Until the end of time?
This isn’t a piece about masks. I wear a mask everywhere I go (I also got Covid).
The problem is the depth of the political divide applies to almost everything we do in life and it has left us fighting over the smallest of things and the biggest of things …
Drugs we will or will not be prescribed. My doctor was adamant about not prescribing anything to me for Covid. But after 5 days, I had to seek out another doctor, with a different point of view, to get the drugs I desperately needed and that probably saved my life.
The fact that prescribing a drug can be a function of a political leaning is terrifying to me. It should be to you too.
When I think about what my world fundamentally looks like and how every single piece of it has been placed under some strange political microscope, that’s when the hopelessness sets in.
Getting on a plane has politics attached. Going out to eat has politics attached. Performing or watching a performer has politics attached. Going to school has politics attached. What we post on social media has politics attached. It also now carries the jeopardy of losing real, flesh and blood friends and real livelihood, depending on who you might’ve supported for president.
Things I might want to try professionally in the future, ALL carry with them political implications.
There’s a strange claustrophobia settling on our nation, where we don’t know which way to move or how to proceed. And it’s not just about Covid restrictions.
Covid has opened so many doors for our governments – local, state and federal – to control us, we are coming out of the pandemic with a mindset of compliance and fear.
I’ve never felt like that in America.
And if you can feel like that in America, you can feel like that anywhere and everywhere in the world. And that creates a lack of hope. Because hope is almost always attached to freedom.
For the foreseeable future I have no idea what to do with my life. A lot of people are feeling the same way.
What’s the next endeavor you’re going to try that will get shut down?
When are you going to make the wrong statement, at wrong time, and get banned from a social media platform?
When are you going to say something snarky about something as trivial as masks and lose friends?
*The fact that I just said masks are “trivial” will incite the same comment thread I articulated earlier. See above.*
So many of us don’t recognize the country right now. And we fear that we won’t ever recognize it again.
I just went to pick up lunch at my favorite Chinese restaurant. They were closed. When I peered in the window, I saw them packing their stuff.
So many things we have been used to are going away and never coming back.
And we’re left with this new place that feels soulless.
Trying to picture ourselves running full speed toward our goals, hopes and dreams too often includes us tripping over something that wasn’t there before.
That makes dreaming difficult.
And in America, the dream is the thing.
I’m praying we all get to dream with abandon again, without half of us having to fight the other half. I’m trying to hope.
Trying with all my heart…to hope.
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