Those brief stunning moments in life should be held closely. (John K. White/Castlegar News)

John White: Where to find hope in a sea of turmoil

I'm finding it more challenging to find sparks of positivity when reviewing the year's milestones.

That new calendar is freshly out of the cellophane and up on the wall, so it’s time for the annual review and reset.

It seems as though every New Year’s Eve we’re commiserating with friends and family over the pains and traumas of the previous 365 days. “Good riddance, fill in the blank year.”

Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older, but I’m finding it more and more challenging to find those sparks of positivity when reviewing the year’s milestones.

There seemed to be an inordinate number of tragic events impacting West Kootenay residents in 2017, ranging from fatal crashes to terrorist attacks in London and Las Vegas. It seemed as though there was another incident every couple of weeks. The collected weight of these events caused my spirits to droop.

Many of my musical heroes passed away, and it was one of the first years where I was deeply saddened by the loss of so many who have gifted me with joy and escape.

On the plus side, my wife and I were able to attend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert in Brooklyn, where some of our favourite artists were honoured and performed. The finalé with members of Pearl Jam, Journey, Yes and Rush was mind-blowing. We got to witness the reunion of Steve Perry and the Journey boys. We were also able to tour some of the top museums in the world on that trip.

Maybe it’s that the painful moments are unexpected and jolting. Maybe it’s the compounding effect of social media, where we see just how much the traumas are hurting our friends and family that we feel the impact more, and for a longer period.

It doesn’t help that the current U.S. president (I can’t say his name after the word “president” kind of like the Voldemort thing) is playing “mine is bigger than yours” with his sociopathic bro from North Korea while tauntingly wiggling his orange finger over the big button. His behaviour and its continued acceptance by his followers make me equal parts angry, confused, sad, and worried about the inevitable nuclear apocalypse. How can you be hopeful in the face of such buffoonery?

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The answer is to do whatever you can to nurture hope.

Have an impact in your community. Go through every day looking for that spark, no matter how tiny. Notice those little moments that bring a smile, and really soak them up. Is the twilight bathing that distant mountain in a glorious blue glow? Stop and take it in and let it fill your hope tank.

Be nice to a stranger. Try to lift those around you, whether you think they deserve it or not, because they do deserve it.

Those people who seem to be down or angry all of the time? They likely have things going on that you have no idea about because it’s too painful or too personal to reveal. A small but intentional shared moment of hope can be what it takes to pull them back from the edge of despair.

A powerful side effect of this approach is that the hope multiplies when shared. You are lifted by lifting others.

I realize these sentiments are likely already out there on gift-store mugs, posters and T-shirts, but I’m sincere in my plea.

Our time here is finite. Grab those minutes, hours, days and years by the hand and make them count.

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