Loose Ends: Leaving room for hope

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MEEKER — “The sooner, the better,” the deep voice squawked through the airwaves as I made my early morning trudge to the recreation center. I couldn’t imagine why I heard these words of wisdom on the day I was mulling over all of the things I didn’t want to do; procrastinating, eventually putting most of them on the back burner.
The high school’s morning announcements wafted down the hill and across the fields. It is a phrase that is interjected into all sorts of deadlines, college or job applications, medical and dental appointments. Once it is said aloud, the implication is that if one waits too long to get a jump on things, everything will fall apart. These days being prepared for the increasing population expected with oil and gas development has become a front burner issue.
Building a new elementary school and improving the middle and high schools are only a few of the projects mentioned. Committees are formed to not only mitigate the impact but to bolster the town’s infrastructure before development hits full force.
Of course “the sooner, the better” is a motto that fits the direction the community should go. I was trying to think about the reversal of the words, and wondered if the phrase would be applicable in any situation? Could anything actually be accomplished at all with the motto, “later, rather than sooner?”
Thirty years ago, newcomers were often caught by surprise when trying to get involved in community organizations. Someone would inevitably say, “You are expecting us to change the way we do things,” or “It will eventually happen, (necessary change that is) but you don’t need to make it happen so fast.” The comment, “We don’t do it that way here,” could be heard in any number of settings, when someone new tried to help.
We may not know what actually lies ahead but we do know how to get the community to pull together to be ready for the change. The pioneer tradition of patching and repatching may not be adequate in any case. Working together to come up with some solutions for the myriad problems that arise with the pressure on the existing infrastructure is the key.
Call me a relentless optimist but there is a difference between optimism and hope. Human nature is what it is but without hope most of us can’t bridge that gap.
Hope leaves room for possibility of change or leaving room for reasonable risk. Optimism moves forward blindly, while leaving room for hope brings forth solutions to some very community specific concerns by encouraging people to venture a guess of what will work to shape a future for everyone.