By Glen Birbeck — The Buzz —

The invisible editor called me into his office on the top floor of the Buzz building. The view was incredible . “What do you see down there? ” he asked. “People, houses , ” I responded. “What else? ” he prompted. “Well, ” I began, “Trees , streets , cars , cats and dogs. ” I couldn’t actually see cats or dogs , but I assumed they were there.

“You see hope! ” he said firmly. “Hope” he repeated turning from the view to face me. “Hope” I echoed without much enthusiasm. I enjoy a metaphor as much as the next hack writer, but just what was he getting at? “All of that came from a seed, the people, the cats and dogs , the trees. ” “How about the houses and cars? ” I ask.

His metaphor didn’t waver, “The seed of an idea, ” he said. He reached down and from a silver tray and from the remains of his lunch he picked up an orange pip. He squeezed the seed between thumb and forefinger, holding it up to make the point. “How, ” I pressed him, “is a seed hope? ” He responded saying, “Because it embodies hope in function and design – Nothing in it imagines failure. The acorn knows it will one day be a mighty oak and dominate the forest. ” He saw my interest flag, my lunch making me drowsy. “Here is the point, ” he said pressing the orange pip into my palm.

“Great, ” I thought, “he ‘s getting to the point. ” I pocketed the pip and looked attentive. “You must have written in one of your dark screeds about the plight of the great hard wood forests of North America. ” I must have, I thought. “Well, imagine how it would have been if one of the acorns littering the Forest floor had preached hopelessness? If the light of hope had been dimmed even a little in the more impressionable acorns? One thing leading to another there might have been even fewer trees. ”

He stomped a shoe on the oak floor of his office. “This might have been linoleum! ” he said, recoiling from the very thought. “How much worse is it to tell people down there that things are hopeless? ” He swept a hand across the view on the other side of the glass. “Suggesting they give up now and avoid the rush? Negative thinking has power just as positive thinking does. Do we want to hitch our wagon to a team of animals who expect to stumble over the edge of a cliff at any moment? Or would we be better advised to harness optimistic steeds? , noble animals who hope that around the next bend are fields of tender grass and not a single fly. ” He glanced at his watch and with a smile ushered me out the door.

Alone again in the hall waiting for the express elevator to the lobby I had an epiphany. He was right. Planting the seed of hope, encouraging it to sprout, nurturing it – that would be my mission. I thought about the thousand and one discouraging facts , the endless number of reports and findings warning of bad ends for humanity. The extinctions , pollution and wars. All that was on one side of the scale, heavy stuff.

On the other side the seed, the pip in my pocket, hope. The seed weighed almost nothing yet little by little the beam was shifting toward balance. Hope had tipped the scale. There was a way forward. Every problem had a solution. Every challenge could be met. Humanity had in the past pulled its keester out of the fire of fate, it would again.

At last the elevator slowed, stopped and opened its doors. I looked out onto the vast lobby, its polished marble floors reflecting a golden sunset. I strode toward toward the huge turnstile door and onto the side walk. Outside the homeless parted, pulling back to let me pass. Their cardboard encampment pitched against the marble base of the building. A particularly disheveled old man shoved a tin cup toward me and grunted something.

“I will not further corrupt you by giving money, ” I said, “but I will give you hope” His eyes widened at the prospect. In a frail, faltering voice he repeated, “Hope? ” I reached into my pocket. He smiled broadly as my hand opened over the outstretched cup, “clink! ” He raised the cup to his eye and peered into it. He shook the cup. Something rattled. He looked into it a second time then raised his eyes to look at me.

“Hey, what the hell is this! ” he said. I smiled gently and said, “it is hope my friend, the seed of hope” His face crunched into a contorted expression of gratitude, he turned away, his words of thanks lost in a gust of cold wind.

The invisible editor called me into his office on the top floor of the Buzz building. The view was incredible . “What do you see down there? ” he asked. “People, houses , ” I responded. “What else? ” he prompted. “Well, ” I began, “Trees , streets , cars , cats and dogs. ” I couldn’t actually see cats or dogs , but I assumed they were there. “You see hope! ” he said firmly. “Hope” he repeated turning from the view to face me. “Hope” I echoed without much enthusiasm.

I enjoy a metaphor as much as the next hack writer, but just what was he getting at? “All of that came from a seed, the people, the cats and dogs , the trees. ” “How about the houses and cars? ” I ask. His metaphor didn’t waver, “The seed of an idea, ” he said. He reached down and from a silver tray and from the remains of his lunch he picked up an orange pip. He squeezed the seed between thumb and forefinger, holding it up to make the point.

“How, ” I pressed him, “is a seed hope? ” He responded saying, “Because it embodies hope in function and design – Nothing in it imagines failure. The acorn knows it will one day be a mighty oak and dominate the forest. ”

He saw my interest flag, my lunch making me drowsy. “Here is the point, ” he said pressing the orange pip into my palm. “Great, ” I thought, “he ‘s getting to the point. ” I pocketed the pip and looked attentive. “You must have written in one of your dark screeds about the plight of the great hard wood forests of North America. ” I must have, I thought. “Well, imagine how it would have been if one of the acorns littering the Forest floor had preached hopelessness? If the light of hope had been dimmed even a little in the more impressionable acorns? One thing leading to another there might have been even fewer trees. ”

He stomped a shoe on the oak floor of his office. “This might have been linoleum! ” he said, recoiling from the very thought. “How much worse is it to tell people down there that things are hopeless? ” He swept a hand across the view on the other side of the glass. “Suggesting they give up now and avoid the rush? Negative thinking has power just as positive thinking does.

Do we want to hitch our wagon to a team of animals who expect to stumble over the edge of a cliff at any moment? Or would we be better advised to harness optimistic steeds? , noble animals who hope that around the next bend are fields of tender grass and not a single fly. ”

He glanced at his watch and with a smile ushered me out the door. Alone again in the hall waiting for the express elevator to the lobby, I had an epiphany. He was right. Planting the seed of hope, encouraging it to sprout, nurturing it – that would be my mission. I thought about the thousand and one discouraging facts , the endless number of reports and findings warning of bad ends for humanity. The extinctions , pollution and wars. All that was on one side of the scale, heavy stuff. On the other side the seed, the pip in my pocket, hope. The seed weighed almost nothing yet little by little the beam was shifting toward balance. Hope had tipped the scale. There was a way forward. Every problem had a solution. Every challenge could be met. Humanity had in the past pulled its keester out of the fire of fate, it would again. At last the elevator slowed, stopped and opened its doors. I looked out onto the vast lobby, its polished marble floors reflecting a golden sunset. I strode toward toward the huge turnstile door and onto the side walk.

Outside the homeless parted, pulling back to let me pass. Their cardboard encampment pitched against the marble base of the building. A particularly disheveled old man shoved a tin cup toward me and grunted something. “I will not further corrupt you by giving money, ” I said, “but I will give you hope” His eyes widened at the prospect. In a frail, faltering voice he repeated, “Hope? ” I reached into my pocket. He smiled broadly as my hand opened over the outstretched cup, “clink! ”

He raised the cup to his eye and peered into it. He shook the cup. Something rattled. He looked into it a second time then raised his eyes to look at me. “Hey, what the hell is this! ” he said. I smiled gently and said, “it is hope my friend, the seed of hope” His face crunched into a contorted expression of gratitude, he turned away, his words of thanks lost in a gust of cold wind.


The Buzz is a joint publication between WRFR.org Community Radio and MaineCoast.TV Community Television.

The Buzz printed version is distributed in Rockland Maine each week at these locations:

Dunkin Donuts * Rock City Cafe * Camden National Bank * Main Street Market * Jensen’s Pharmacy * Willow Bake Shoppe * Offshore Restaurant Good Tern Coop * Rockland Library * City Hall * Jess’s Market * Southend Grocery.

The Buzz online version is available each Friday at www.TheBuzz.me.

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