January is nearly over, and I have written to you every Sunday, as promised. I am feeling prouder of myself than is seemly. I am also aware that I need more structure to Yours Hopefully, to prevent my life from degenerating into the weekly essay crisis that marked my student years. Not a part of youth I wish to relive.
So, today I introduce The HOPE List.
On the last Sunday of each month I will share droplets of hope, let’s call them ‘hopelets’, that brought warmth to my life that month. An eclectic mix of the actual and the abstract, featuring science and song.
In no particular order here is the Hope List for January 2021.
1. The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman
At Biden’s inauguration the US National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman recited a poem, ‘The Hill We Climb’. It was a moment of perfect harmony. The right person, at the right time, saying the right words, to the right audience. Gorman’s words are artful and powerful, and the dexterity of her delivery is mesmerising. She was my sunshine this month.
2. Odeon Relics by Philip Butler
Lockdown has revealed what we truly love. What we pine for. I am pining for simple pleasures – a trip to the cinema being high on my want-list. I can’t remember how I happened upon Philip Butler’s photo-series of the surviving original 1930’s cinemas built by the Odeon. It is an entrancing reminder of the history and glamour of the cinema, and a fitting substitute in these film-less times. The beautiful architecture, stunning photography, and historical insights are enough to bring joy. But I was moved most by Butler’s commitment to the story: finding, visiting, and immortalising every remaining cinema.
3. Everyday Scientists by Everyone
I’ve talked about vaccines a lot this month. Many people from many different worlds have asked me many different questions. I have been energised and encouraged by (almost) all of them. I waste no time on the anti-vaxxers, their ideology has nothing to do with empowering people to make decisions (and very little to do with vaccines). But so-called ‘vaccine hesitancy’, being uncertain about whether to have the vaccine and wanting more information before deciding, is a reasonable response to a crisis in which things change very quickly.
Our most powerful tool against malicious disinformation is encouraging people to ask questions and teaching them how to evaluate information.
NB: Please accept if you are offered a vaccine. They work. They are safe. Email me if you have any questions.
4. Treeson – an eco-musical by G. Victoria Campbell and Joseph Purdue
Treeson appears on this list for two reasons. A few weeks ago, I encouraged you to find ways to support the musicians you love instead of paying the streaming services that exploit them. Your responses to my call-to-action buoyed me on the cold, grim winter days. Treeson was one of your grass-root findings, which I wanted to share.
Treeson is a musical centered on our struggle to love and respect our planet. A love story between Humanity and Mother Earth, told through a love story between the musical’s protagonists Ash and Terra. The urgency and importance of the message are enhanced by the exuberance of the music. If you like musicals, you will like Treeson.
5. Beginner’s Ear by Corinna da Fonseca-Wolheim
I discovered Corinna da Fonseca-Wolheim’s writing last year when I was thinking about how important silence is to the music I love. I read ‘How the Silence Makes the Music’ Corinna’s wonderful ‘brief, incomplete, very quiet guide to the history of music’s negative spaces’ in the New York Times which led me to her blog.
Corinna’s work and writings are at the intersection of music and mindfulness. They restore me. They may do the same for you.
I sign off January 2021 with the words of Gorman:
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light
If only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it
Yours Hopefully is a weekly experiment in living hopefully. With songs. Why not subscribe and get a post every Sunday in your inbox?