Elita Sohmer Clayman

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune-without the words
And never stops at all

This poem by Emily Dickinson and she compares the thought of hope with a metaphor, comparing it to a bird. I would challenge Ms Dickinson on the bird equation; however I know what she was implying. Of course, who am I to challenge a poet of her caliber?

So instead of challenging her, I will use my definition of hope and explain it here. We all need hope of one kind or another. We all require the desire of hope because if we do not have any hope at all, then we are vacant people. My late dad was a hope person. He always believed tomorrow would be a better day than today even if today had been an excellent day. A month before he passed away, he had not been feeling too well. The doctor that he frequented was away for a month and the doctor left in his place was an unknown to my dad. Therefore, even though he was a man of great intellect, he chose to wait.lf he had not made the wrong decision, he would not have died at age seventy-two. He waited for the return of the doctor he knew so well and who knew him so well and therefore he interfered with his own health and did not survive.

He was ill and waited and even though he was a ‘hope’ personality type person, hoping did not save him. However, for most of his life hope played a great positive force for him. Things did not always go in the right way for him in his finances, yet he always believed that things would get better and many times they did and often they did not. He always had a positive personality because he knew he was a smart person, a good person and a decent person. This he knew and this kept his spirits high and his hope strong. He instilled that feeling to us kids and therefore we inherited his explicit feelings on life in general.

Remember that in those days, there were no television sets, no ipods, no DVD players, no VCR or cd players, no digital cameras and no computers. When my mother received at her job an electric typewriter we all thought the boss was a millionaire and my mom a recipient of his generosity on the job, Mother and Dad came back from the 1930 some World Fair in New York City and spoke about a screen called a TV. that would enable us someday to watch movies on a screen in our own homes. We could not truly understand what she meant but we had great ‘hope’ that one day in the future, we would own one of those ‘things.’

When we had a dollar or two, we had a great hope to buy a book that we could own our self instead of having to return it to the public library after we read it. I still have two of those books that I owned standing proudly on my bookshelf in my family room here in the house. They are worn and yellow but still as beautiful to me as the day I had the few dollars to really own my first book. That was hope in the highest degree for me.

Mom always hoped too and her hopes were to have a few things in the home for more comfort. One of them was a big fan to cool the apartment so we would not be so uncomfortable in the hottest days of summertime. Finally they scraped together seventy dollars (a lot of money in the fifties) and they bought this huge window fan that cooled (we thought and hoped) the whole living area. People would come to visit and thought my Dad had hit the lottery (even though there were no lotteries in those days.).

Dad’s great hope was to own a car. He finally bought a used car, a wine colored Plymouth and paid around five hundred dollars and when he rode it home, we all stood outside and admired it as if it were a Jaguar or Cadillac. To us, his hope had been taken care of and we were not without thanks for this happening to us and him.
Dad only rode it to the grocery store or to his business office downtown in the city because he had to check in once a week. He worked from home using the phone, no computer of course and writing by hand his insurance orders etc. He had no typewriter but he had a clear handwriting and that was enough for his clients.

My brother had a great hope to graduate college and make lots of money in his chosen field. My mother had a great hope to have more money to put more food on the table and nice clothes on our bodies and to be able to go to the hair salon every other week to have her hair done. Dad and Mom had humble and modest desires because they knew those were the kinds that could come true.

My hope was always to have more material things like clothes, shoes, coats and some jewelry (costume). I did not know of fine jewelry and what it cost or meant, even owning more books was a lovely thought and hope. Of course, we all wished for good health and some happy moments of fun and excitement.

When a step aunt of mine announced she was going to Europe on a trip, we thought her quite the millionaire. We never even had the hope or thought that one day we might go to Europe our self.

There are all kinds of hope. Some may hope for great wealth, some may hope for big and fancy cars, some may hope for lots of traveling. Others will be satisfied to even give birth to one child and become parents and then grandparents. Others will hope to excel in a sport or hobby.

I have always dreamt and hoped that I could win some dance trophies in a competition. I did do that, I did travel, and I did have children and now grandchildren. I do have pretty good health for my age and now I hope to keep off the weight I have lost from going to Weight Watchers. I hope for my children and grandchildren to be happy, healthy and to have a wonderful life.

So we all have to have hope. Hope feelings will vary and depend on who we are and what we want. To not have hope is to be weary and defeated without any illusions as to what life can be. Hope is not the thing with feathers as Emily Dickinson said. Hope is as she said-does not ever stop. It does perch in the soul, our soul and it should never fly away as a bird will. Hope should have a resting place in our heart and our soul and be ever ready to increase our awareness of what we can do and accomplish, no matter what age we are, what income bracket we are in and what our now age is.

We can hope daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, but as long as we can open our eyes and our thoughts on knowing that hope never stops at all, then our hope will have become a part of our being and no one can ever take it away from us. As my dad always believed tomorrow will be better and the day after that even more special and perfect. Hope is the thing that gives us the desire to continue even in adversity or despair. We overcome these moments with the ever lasting thing called hope. Hope is optimism, faith and reassuring bulbs that we turn on to light up the lamps in our life.
These lamps never dim, never go off because we put a timer on them, these lamps are always bright because they are the lighthouse that glows and is our guiding light.

Hope is the eternal light that brightens our days and our thoughts. This eternal light is exactly what it is-eternal, never-ending, everlasting and enduring. Hope is the light that cannot be measured in watts or whats. What hope is as it becomes the way we measure the brightness of our daily living is what life is all about. We can all hope, it does not cost us even a penny but it will make our soul be soothed and our heart beome full of happiness soon.

Elita Sohmer Clayman
Baltimore, Maryland
August 2007

Keep on Dancing


Published by René Zgraggen
Montgomery, AL