Experience. Strength. Hope.
It’s an acronym I’ve learned to love.
There’s also a saying about leaving the mess, and remembering the message. I’ve tried to present both in equal parts herein. I want to make sure that you–whoever you are out there, reading this–can find some common ground in the experiences detailed. Not all of them are mine. Some of them are combinations of multiple events. Some didn’t happen at all, but the thoughts were there for me or someone who has allowed me to know a bit of their story. There is only one name that has remained unchanged in this account, and that is Martha, my med lady.
But these experiences, whether true in their exact form in this volume, are happening. If not to you, then someone. You might know that someone. Value your experience. It is universal, and ties you to the world; but it is also your experience and yours alone. This cannot be taken away from you. Our actions make up the tapestry of who we are, and shows us–if we pay attention–where we need to go.
Our strength comes from knowledge, numbers, and ourselves. It is so much easier to find solutions when you are aware of what you are dealing with. And when you know you aren’t alone? Man, I hate to even think back to the days when I thought I was alone. It’s not a good feeling. We are not alone in this.
And knowledge and numbers are only a support for the framework you have. You are so much stronger than you could imagine. Every living being in the world is surviving. Survival takes strength and perseverance. It also requires the lesser acclaimed strength of knowing when to rely on those around you. You have what you need.
And hope? What more can I really say of hope? If you do not have it at this moment, allow me to have it for you. Hope is not weakness, it is not blind optimism, it is not a passive activity. If you hope for change, and make no attempt at changing, it won’t happen. But if you try to make a change without hope, you will ultimately have a harder time.
We have what we need. We can do this.