“We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
I find myself coming back again and again to that quote from Lewis.
Here’s another, from the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: “Optimism is the belief that things are going to get better. Hope is the belief that we can make things better. Optimism is a passive virtue, hope is an active one. It takes no courage to be an optimist, but it does need courage to hope.”
A personal note:
By now, as some of you may know, I was supposed to be on a plane going to France, to visit my daughter and two grandsons, whom we have not been able to see for more than two years. Usually, we spend a month together every summer — very much a family tradition — but, like so much else, those summers at the lake were erased by COVID.
All we’ve had is… next time, which kept getting pushed back.
I just got tired of waiting and I really wanted to see them. We couldn’t both go, so my loving wife urged me to go alone. So, a couple of months ago I booked the trip to go see them in a small town north of Bordeaux.
From the beginning, I knew that so much could go wrong. Even though all the plans were made — reservations, booster shots, tests, Christmas presents, (plus a new bed for their home), I was always hesitant to get my hopes up. France might shut its borders; the US could tighten travel restrictions; I might test positive.
It wasn’t until this Monday that, for the first time really, I felt certain that I was actually going. We had a flurry of packing, email exchanges with the airlines, endless translations of French COVID regulations, and text messages about camera drones and electric cars for the boys…
And then…. a COVID outbreak shut down my youngest grandson’s school.
A quick test Monday was positive; the official test yesterday confirmed it: Ten day quarantine, and a trip that now is not going to take place. (BTW: so far, he’s showing no symptoms and everyone feels fine.)
I expected to be angry, especially at the unvaxxed holdouts… and I am… but my main reaction is just crushing disappointment. And, of course, I know I’m not alone in this. I keep telling myself that all of this is temporary and that we will get together in the Spring or the Summer… certainly in time for our big family wedding around Labor Day.
But time is irreplaceable, and we have all lost so much. My daughter, Sandy, is living an amazing life as a talented artist, but I can tell she is homesick. Elliot, who is growing into an extraordinary young man, has been elected class president six times in a row. The last time I saw Elliot he was 9. He turns 12 in a few days. Silas is 9; I haven’t seen him since he was 7. These are the crucial years, and we can’t get that time back.
With that in mind — instead of heading to Europe, I’m getting on a plane to visit my other grandchildren in Maryland. Tempus fugit.
So this will be my last Morning Shots for a while. Some of my colleagues will fill-in on the daily podcast and on this newsletter, but you’re otherwise going to have to finish off 2021 on your own.
In the meantime, have a joyous Christmas as you gird yourself for the New Year. Practice hope.
Elliot and Silas:
The Marvelous Mrs. Cheney
If you can’t admire this woman, I’m not sure you understand the concept of courage. ICYMI, another bravura performance on the floor of the House last night: