Through autumn haze, a pipe dream: Yes! A walk in the park for 2021…let joy be unconfined

Hope: For 2021 to reveal a fantastic journey to find joy.

Pipe Dream: A hope, a wish, or dream that is impossible to achieve or not practical. Any fantastic notion, hope, or story. –

I recently unearthed a notebook from January 2017. Now, in the autumn of 2020, it seems an ancient text. We were in Florida, winding up the sale of my husband’s dad’s place. The day of the presidential inauguration, we were eating breakfast at a neighborhood café, and I was noticing – as I always do – the wall art. The words on one plaque held deep meaning for me that day: Stand up for your principles, even if you stand alone.

There was no attribution, just the words. I remember thinking about the four years that we’d all be traveling through. I remember wondering that morning if I’d be doing that…standing up for my principles. With election season in full swing, looking back, I’m not so sure.

The one thing I know: I have a dream. Is it a pipe dream? I have a dream to feel joy again. That 2021 will be a walk in the park. And that we may walk pandemic free – at least some of the time – with joy unconfined. Maybe I’m in a crazy autumn haze, but as Lord Byron put it, On with the dance. Let joy be unconfined.

Interestingly, the origin of pipe dream [according to] stems from the practice of smoking opium, and though many English writers turned to opiates for inspiration, the term pipe dream originated in the United States. In the mid-1800s to the late 1800s, the western United States was rife with opium dens, places where opium from China was sold and smoked.

I don’t know if Lord Byron was one of those writers, but that’s one of my favorite quotes. It’s featured on a treasured poster I’ve kept from from our daughter’s dance class days. A ballerina is poised in flowing pink, raised up on one toe, one leg stretching backward midair, arms gracefully skyward, ready to leap into joy. That’s what I want in January 2021. To leap into joy.

2020…to be forever known as the year we all stayed home. For us, the pandemic slog began in February, continuing through a tentative spring, and a long hot Covid summer. We began the tiptoe into emergence at the end of May. Beginning to enjoy things, like a walk in the park, felt good. We ventured out for a beautiful day of walking at a favorite park – social distancing, masks-in-hand when needed – as Michiganders re-engaged after the three month quarantine.

How amazing to get a hair cut, meet friends and family outside, dine at a distance or go shopping, even in masks. Tiny groups were better than nothing. Summer weather meant we could get out to strawberry farms and garden produce stands. How wonderful to enjoy Michigan blueberries, peaches, Howell Honeysweet Melons. Now, the fruits of summer have come and gone, slipping away from our palates until another season. I appreciated these little reminders of normal summertime pleasures…little joys.

Yes, emergence in June to green grass and blue skies felt good. But then came the civic unrest not seen since the summer of 1968. It was a long, hot summer across the nation. This pandemic year brought a stirring of change and upheaval…including major climate events of horrendous fires and hurricanes.

Emerging also in early summer are next year’s calendars. I’m always surprised, but this year their arrival seemed surreal, impressing on me even more these strange pandemic times. After all, 2021? I couldn’t envision it. Even now, I can’t peer through the haze of autumn to see ahead. I can’t picture a plan – as I usually do. A trip, for example.

During our Covid 2020 summer, summer 2021 seemed in the distance future. As I leafed through the calendar pages, I wondered if I’d dare muster the audacity to hope. Would I dare revive my going-rogue-for hope theme from 2017? Where would we be in 2021? What would our world look like a year from now? I pray that it’s not beige. I read that’s the trending home décor color…the color of comfort and calm.

I want calm, but I just want things to jibe again. I’m tired of mind boggling. I’m tired of political drama. I’m tired of being afraid of Covid-19. I’m tired of being addicted to my Twitter feed and not getting enough sleep. And I definitely don’t want a beige existence. I am craving color and joy again.

I laughed at an October 5th Over the Hedge cartoon by Micheal Fry and T. Lewisv. Many comic

story lines are following our Covid experience. This one reflected our apparent universal hangups: The Pandemic! Urban Blight! The Election! Racial strife! The climate! The Supreme Court! … But I wasn’t laughing a couple days later when our own state erupted in the news of a volatile domestic terrorism plot against our governor.

Every day there’s a new low. It’s harder to get a genuine laugh, even from the cartoon pages. It’s hard to keep the sadness – about the nature of our political environment – from creeping into my thoughts.

Enjoy every little thing: That was a welcome reminder on my carry-out bag at Cracker Barrel on a day out shopping in September, after a long delayed physician appointment. I wondered how we’d all navigate these situations this fall and winter. A reset, I figured, was in order.

In September I realized what had been missing. I happened to view a news feature about animal rescue in the aftermath of the western fires. It featured the reunions of animals with their owners. Heartwarming: The animal rescuer kept repeating that word. I realized that we’ve been missing more things heartwarming. I realized that we are now like those animals needing to be rescued from the fire.

Indulging in my September reset, I wallowed for three weeks in the Tour de France, rescheduled due to Covid-19. I’ve always loved imagining myself on vacation, exploring those storybook backroads. The Tour, and a little bit of baseball, perked me up for awhile.

I’m sure we all wish we could beam ourselves somewhere else during this Covid-19 home adventure. We want to be rescued. We want more heartwarming experiences. We want to take a trip, visit relatives, see a ball game, attend a concert…in person…and in safety. Holiday season looms; and so does a spike in the pandemic through fall and winter.

Election year colliding with Covid-19 Year 2020 feels like a collision of historical proportions.

We’ve lived through four winters of division. What I wrote below, that first winter, startles me today:

Rebellions are built on hope.”Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

A simple sentence, with simple words can ripple through our universe. Rebellions are built on hope.

At Christmastime, Disney released the newest Star Wars film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. In it, Rebels Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) both wind up delivering this rallying cry. The line is memorable because it’s an obvious precursor to the movie set right after it: 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope(USA Today)

Hope is a simple word. Hope is a power word. Hope is something we’re desperately seeking, not just in the movies, but in our daily lives.

I’ve been reading a lot of articles, blogs, Facebook and Twitter postings in the months preceding and the weeks following the 2016 national election. Because of the divisive rhetoric – which has not subsided, but instead seems to be reeling off course into uncharted territory as the new year unfolds – I find myself fantasizing about living off the grid.

That was then. In January 2017, who knew a pandemic was even remotely possible to take us off the grid, forcing us to stay home. Who knew that inflamed rhetoric would become even more polarizing in the public square?

This summer I also came across notes written later on, in spring 2017. At my annual checkup, I’d remarked to my doctor about feeling frazzled more than usual. I was feeling distracted and unable to focus. She discussed various stress relief measures.

As time went by, I realized that I was being affected by the political landscape more than at any other time in my life. Each day seemed to hold a new scandal. Many Americans, I’d noted, had stopped watching the news. Of course, for a news junkie, that just doesn’t compute. So here I am in 2020, still navigating this Alice-in-Wonderland parallel universe, down the rabbit hole frazzled feelings never really subsiding, only intensifying. 

Now that we’re tuning into autumn, that 2021 calendar will find its way into our planning schedule. But even now, in this crazy Covid year, next year seems eerily off my radar.

I understand there will be no crowds New Year’s Eve in New York City’s Times Square this Dec. 31. Time won’t stop; we’ll still watch the ball drop ringing in the new year. My prayer is that, by January, we’ll be looking into the new year ahead with clarity, charting our plans and dreams. We’ll be dancing our hearts out…confidently and with joy.

Hope is the word that filters through the Star Wars films. Rebellions are built on hope.

Words alone, or words strung together have power. A simple word can bring about an epiphany of spirit. A simple word can illuminate a journey. Maybe even a renaissance.

Is it a pipe dream to hope a walk in the park, with joy unconfined? Maybe, but we must get on with the dance, our personal dance and purpose in this lifetime we are living. So again, and always, I hope for joy.

Pipe Dream: any fantastic notion, hope or story. I hope that 2021 will reveal a fantastic journey for us to find joy.

Here’s the link to my 2017 blog, in a galaxy long ago and far away…


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Susan G Parcheta dreamed of being an inspirational writer, even as heading off after college to a teaching job. While teaching was not her passion, words were -- writing many years for Livingston newspapers, especially in the areas of education, health and wellness. The dream continues: to inspire creative, healthy living and to explore new concepts of body, mind, spirit. Her signature theme “All Things Beautiful” invites you to embrace the beauty and imagine the possibilities that life has to offer. She lives in Gregory with her husband, Jerry, and their fluffy, pointy-eared -- and always lovable -- cat, Spock.