What might that have been like? Boy meets girl, they fall in love.
It turns out the boy has to leave to serve his country in the army.
The girl, in love, promises to wait.
They have to rely on letters.
The word ‘rely’ might be ironic for the postal service may not be reliable. No, not one bit.
So, he would go off for war and write a letter or two.
She would wait.. and of course, he would wait for that reply.
She would have to worry about whether he is still alive. And if he is, if he is well.
He would have to worry about whether she is still waiting for him.
And their only contact would be those letters till..
One day, when he returns to find her still waiting.
This might be a bit too ideal but work with me, let’s just imagine, for a second, that that was the case.
And let’s imagine, for ourselves, the power of hope, because that is what held them together through all that unimaginable uncertainty.
Over the years, the unreliable postal service became more reliable and then we were presented with telephones, emails, cellphones and what not…. And, of course, our expectations with regards to communication are higher, but hope still retains its mystical power.
And as I write this, I just wish to remember and celebrate the power of hope.
I am reminded of that wonderful exchange in ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ between Andy Dufresne and Red [over the course of the movie]:
Andy Dufresne: That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from you… Haven’t you ever felt that way about music?
Red: I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it though. Didn’t make much sense in here.
Andy Dufresne: Here’s where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don’t forget.
Andy Dufresne: Forget that… there are places in this world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s something inside… that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. That’s yours.
Red: What’re you talking about?
Andy Dufresne: Hope.
Red: Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.
Andy Dufresne [in a letter to Red]: I could use a good man to help me get my project on wheels. I’ll keep an eye out for you and the chessboard ready. Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend. Andy.
Red: [narrating] I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.
Image by Gerd Altmann