I scroll through my Facebook feed and I look at all the windows. My monitor is a thousand-story house, and I am a giant, peeking my hideously large eye into people’s lives.
This is the first election cycle I’ve been an adult about. I didn’t really care about the other ones because I was still in day care. The day care was called high school, college and graduate school, but it was day care all the same. The issues didn’t bother me because I didn’t have any issues. Student loans gave me more money than I knew what to do with, and my parents could always loan me the rest.
Life was good.
Then I moved out and moved to Los Angeles and life was hard.
It wasn’t the bills or the poverty or or my broken teeth or my job that made it almost impossible.
I can shoulder just about any difficulty.
It was the hopelessness.
It was the feeling that nothing mattered because it’s all rigged, anyway. It was the knowledge that there are some people who think you exist just to be miserable and give them money.
It was the thought that no matter how hard I tried I would never make it. I would never write a good book, and I would never get close to a TV writing room, and that, in the end, I would exist as nothing more than a warning to others.
“Don’t chase your dreams,” they’d say, passing by Old Man Brock as he babbles insanely on the sidewalk, “be an accountant. Be something safe. Have a house. Have a family. You’ll do alright if you just don’t chase your dreams.”
A man cannot live without hope. Hope is rain, the water that fertilizes your will to live.
It doesn’t have to be a big hope. It doesn’t have to be a grand design. It just has to be a hope. A hope for a better future. A hope for your family and your children to have it better off than you did. A hope that your hard work, now pointless toil, will one day amount to something. That you will be recognized, perhaps even in your eulogy, when someone like me will stand before your coffin and say: “She worked hard. She battered and she toiled. This is admirable.”
So I try to deal in hope. I try to find the hope in hopelessness.
It’s hard. It’s much harder than dealing in despair.
Any idiot can point out how hard things are.
The universe will one day burn out and die. Everything will be dead forever. All will be nothing.
But nothing is something, isn’t it?
And how long is forever, anyway?
There are people who disagree with hope. These people deal in fear, and hatred, and malice. They are the true evil. They tell you that you were right. That tiny little goblin in the back of your mind knew what it was talking about. You’re works do amount to nothing. It is all going to hell. There are people out to get you.
Don’t go outside. They’ll shoot you.
Don’t stay inside. They’ll blow you up.
We’re all selling something. These people are no different. They’re selling fear, and fear is addictive. A girl cowers before a roller coaster. A boy walks away from the girl he loves because he can’t ask her out. A girl stays inside and plays World of Warcraft because she hasn’t left her house in months. A boy doesn’t go to a job interview because he’s scared, he’s scared and it’s been so long.
I am not a violent man, but me heroes are those of violence. They rejected fear. They are the general who said “nuts” to the Germans as they encircled Bastogne. They are the women arrested fighting to vote, or the African Americans beaten for doing the same. They are the man in the Nazi rally photo who refused to heil Hitler.
They are people who showed bravery in the face of thousands yelling at them that they should cower, they should fear, they should tremble at the sound of hopeless thunder.
But bravery does not need violence.
So I stand, and my legs are a thousand feet tall, and I peek through my windows.
And I see heroes.
I see people going to conventions. I see people dressing up any way they want. I see men loving men, women loving women. I see young couples being married. Having children. I see my parents buying a dog even though they know it will die. I see love in the face of hatred, bold, shining love that will not be turned away. I see the power of humanity, the power of your very being and I smile.
I peek through the windows, my giant eye filling the entire frame, and I see a world around me, bright a beautiful.
And I think.
I truly think.
The shadows have nothing against the light.
They stand behind their podiums and they scream. “Be afraid!” They shout. “Take my fear!”
Pay them no heed.
Look out your window.
The world isn’t burning.
And even if it is.
It won’t burn forever.
And how long is forever, anyway?