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Peper column: Renewing hope this spring

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Dreamstime Flower

This spring seems so much more vibrant. The azaleas are pinker and whiter. The dogwood trees are fuller. Take a moment to appreciate the hope of better days. Dreamstime

A year ago this time, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. For some reason, this spring seems so much more vibrant. The azaleas are pinker and whiter. The dogwood trees are fuller. The birds are singing louder and grass appears greener.

Yes, I’ll also admit that the pollen is thicker for those of you obsessed with full disclosure.

My point is this: Are the observations I’ve mentioned really true, or are we just so desperate for better times that we seek to grab a piece of hope wherever we can find it?

I’ve always tried to be a glass half-full guy. A career spent in journalism can test that resolve, but it shouldn’t allow clouds of doubt to skew one’s view of what’s happening.

It feels like we’re so close to turning the corner. But it doesn’t feel like we’re all totally committed. Why is that? Is it just human nature to let somebody else carry the load? Are we just so weary of the fight that some have decided to passively participate in the slog to the finish line?

It would take an extremely myopic person to believe our collective circumstances aren’t improving. It doesn’t matter who gets the credit, does it? After all, if we’re continuing to wear masks in crowded groups, it’s not that easy to tell who anybody is anyway.

So why try?

Patience has never been my strongest suit. I like to see results and I’d prefer to see them sooner than later. A recent hip-replacement surgery required more than a usual dose of that understanding.

It took a physical therapist and time to make me appreciate the value of staying the course. When I do what’s recommended, each day gets a little better. If I try to do too much or don’t do anything at all, there’s very little forward progress.

It feels like that’s where we all stand as we try to recover from this pandemic. When we witness improvement, we bail on the reasons we got there. Instead of admitting the experts know what they’re talking about, we individually decide, "I got this."

Here’s the deal. If the goal is to reach herd immunity, you gotta follow what benefits the group, not just your personal preferences.

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I see that the Charleston Market opened downtown just last week. I’ve eaten at a couple of restaurants recently. Things are starting to return, bit by bit, to some semblance of normalcy.

But there still needs to be a measured approach. We’re not there yet, even though it might feel like they keep moving the finish line. Hey, it wasn’t that long ago that a finish line wasn't even visible.

Faith and hope

As we open the newspaper on this Easter Sunday, some of us will attempt an in-person church service, some will still feel it’s not yet the right time. That’s OK. There’s still value in embracing faith and hope as spring arrives.

Last year at this time, we were in the early throes of wiping every door handle and bathing in hand sanitizer. Our glove compartments were not yet overflowing with disposable masks. We were not yet aware that schools would remain closed after spring break.

People started working from home, unsure of the next bend in the road. Some of those detours led directly to road blocks. Our country had never known such uncertainty.

As we’ve navigated our lives and adjusted our expectations, I hope we’ve also come to recognize we’re all better when we pull together. If we do what’s requested individually, we’ll all benefit in the long run. Understand that your personal willingness to participate in the process sends signals to your family and your neighbors.

When those duties are attended to daily, it opens up new windows of appreciation and recognition. That cardinal perched in the backyard feeder is immediately a deeper red and the honeysuckle on a nearby fence emits an intoxicating sweetness.

Spring is all about renewal. Those smells and sounds that come with it are all around us.

We’ve still got a few miles to go on this pandemic journey. But there’s nothing wrong with taking a moment to appreciate the hope of better days both now and down the road.

As we keep our bags packed for the rest of this trip, make sure to leave room for a positive attitude. Otherwise, you may never see, hear or smell all the really good things that are right in front of you.

Reach Warren Peper at peperwarren@gmail.com

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