Conch Shells and Hope

Conch Shells and Hope

By Blaney Pridgen

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views  and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.

As I write this column, my wife and I are at the beach.  Yes, we know travel is risky, but we had cancelled this trip prior, and we are now taking every precaution, travelling by car and preparing meals ourselves.  I note this destination because it is very special to me.  My childhood family vacationed here almost every summer of my growing up, and I have been here several times since.  Last night we drove past a souvenir shop which has been in business for sixty-five years or more.  I remember begging for a conch shell with a light in it when I was in the third grade.  This shop still sells them.  Maybe I will buy one before we drive home.  The first one is gone with the wind or lost forever in some moving van or attic.  I don’t know where I put it except somewhere my heart could see.  You old folks know what I mean.

Other thoughts and remembrances of things past have come to mind (and heart) here.  So very much has changed as one would expect, but not all.  Strange but true, we are staying in the same motel I came to every year as a boy.  It was modern then.  Now it is a cool, art deco retro.  Actually, the décor is pretty much the same, except for the appliances and flat screen color televisions.   As we drive around, I can still pick out a familiar building and landmark.  I can still remember, long after my parents have died.  I can still remember something very good, even quite excellent, after a lifetime of the good, the bad, and the ugly.  This faint echo of my past brings me something like hope.

I am writing before the infernal election.  I am writing this as “this” pandemic is surging on.  Why do the talking heads keep calling it “this” pandemic?  Do they think we might confuse it with some other pandemic?  The various flus?  Polio?  The Black Plague?  I know which pandemic they are talking about.  Anyway, I am writing this at a time in our history (not someone else’s history) when hope is bulimic.  No one of us, regardless of our politics or fears, should allow anything or anyone to steal our hope.  Hope is a necessary ingredient in both faithful and productive living.  I am grateful for the fattening of my hope at my trip to the beach.

Not long ago, I was enduring a medical treatment, which did not seem to be rendering my desired result.  I told a nurse practitioner this.  She said for me not to lose hope because the treatment takes time.  I surprised myself by replying, “Don’t worry, I don’t have any hope to lose.”  Upon reflection, that was a lousy thing to say.  I must apologize to her at my next appointment.  I do have hope to lose and my hope is precious to me.  I don’t ever want to lose hope…not about that particular treatment, not about the pandemic, and not about the elections.  Good things, even excellent things have happened before and can happen again, regardless of the bad and the ugly, which have their ways of showing up.

That conch shell with a light in it was not only a souvenir for that little boy, it was also a beautiful, comforting night light after a Saturday of horror movies.  Gazing at it across my dark bedroom, I would remember days at the beach instead of Frankenstein.  The glow of the shell gave me hope.  We each have some warm flicker of hope that needs fanning these days.  Do so without hesitation.