Keep Looking For Hope: My 2020 Voting Plan And A Coloring Page
by Michelle M. Johnson
"Keep looking for hope" is the title of my latest Have Color Will Travel Free Coloring Page.
|This in my copy of the current HCWT Free Coloring Page.|
I started coloring it a few days ago when I began to
feel (even more) concerned over the upcoming presidential election.
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I began working on it during the height of the COVID19 pandemic, and I finished shortly after the murder of George Floyd Jr., a decidedly dark time for my country and a wholly low time for me.
It may not look like it at first glance, but is an topical illustration for me. My lines are heavier, my formations more chaotic, and I've used completely inked in shapes in my patterns. I was working things out for myself as I focused on this drawing, trying to understand and process all the hurt, fear, sorrow, and anxiety both in my nation and in myself.
And, while I laid down ink to paper during those weeks, I kept returning to the idea of hope.
Wherever my eyes scrolled or my ears listened, it seemed folks were out of hope, struggling for hope or they were holding onto hope, encouraging hope, suggesting that the former being a lackluster, dull state of affairs and the latter being its shiny, sparkly opposite.
But, is that really the truth about hope? Is it really the bright, cheerful and welcoming reverse of hopelessness?
Sure, that's what the definition of the word suggests (Merriam-Webster defines hope as a "desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment," which sounds pretty glossy and put together to me), but is that what hope really looks like in the wild?
The more ink I added to this drawing, the more I began to think not.
Hope isn't the colorful bloom on a healthy flower; its the dirty, mottled, fibrous stem punching its way through the packed earth to reach the sun. Hope isn't the shiny, clean, comfortable automobile; its the stinky, flammable, toxic gasoline we need to get a car's tires turning. Hope is knotted, crusty, grabby, and thick. Hope is also angry, bossy, demanding, and tenacious. And, hope is found as often, and typically in larger quantities, in the most unlikely of places - a conversation with a stranger, a bumper sticker in the parking lot, an unexpected phone call, a report on the news - as it is in the places we expect it - the voices of children, the hugs of a loved one, the words of the likeminded, the music, movies and books that we choose.
As this illustration came to a place of balance for me, as it started suggesting to me that it was finished (I never know when a coloring page is done; it just sort of...announces itself to me), my personal relationship with hope during this dire time in my nation's history began to feel clearer, too.
|Can you spy with your little eye the HOPE that I missed|
coloring in during my recent art therapy time?
Hope is the easiest for me to hold onto when I am angry and when I feel I have some sense of agency over a situation that is trying to tear me apart. In me hope isn't pretty, polite, or patient; it is a heat-fueled drive for something better, kinder, fairer. Having hope can exhaust me and energize me; it can just as easily push me to silent contemplation as it can inspire me to wild creativity.
Early voting began this week here in Texas, and though I have yet to vote (don't worry, me and mine will be heading to polls early for the first time ever, soon), I am seeing loads of folks eagerly casting their ballots, faces filled with energetic hope. And, while this excites me to see all the enthusiasm about taking part in this year's election, I am also a bit concerned. There are still many hurdles between where we are now as a nation (where the world is in general, too) and seeing all of us safely through this season of social distancing and social change; can my hope and the hope of others for a better, brighter, more just future be maintained once the opportunity for agency has passed (getting to cast a voting ballot is one of the most powerful types of agency there is)? Will anger be enough to see me through 2020 and beyond?
Perhaps maybe now the title of this illustration is making more sense? "Keep looking for hope" isn't a Where's Waldo coloring challenge (Although as I began to color this image myself, I started by coloring in all of the HOPEs...or so I thought - I completely overlooked two HOPEs and didn't realize it until I was taking photographs for this blog post!😂), but rather an inky reminder to myself and anyone else who prints and colors it that hope is elusive, twisty, not all that pretty, and most definitely hard to find sometimes, but that doesn't necessarily mean we are hopeless. Hope is a hungry critter, and it requires us to pay attention and keep our eyes peeled for its presence for it to survive.
After I vote, my plan is to add color to this illustration, teeny bit by teeny bit, when (not if) my hope wavers to remind myself that hope isn't an easy concept to play with, especially when my feelings of agency aren't very strong. And, I hope you will color it, too (See what I did there?), because that's what this particular piece of gnarly, patterned, abstract art is for -- helping you keep looking for hope.