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  • Writer's pictureDr. Tim Ridley

Looking for Hope

If you grew up in a snowy region, you were probably one of millions of kids hoping for lots of snow during the winter months. Not only to play in; lots of snow usually meant school closings. More snow meant happier kids! As we get older, our priorities change a bit.

Millions of people in North America depend on a cute furry animal called a groundhog to predict six more weeks of winter, or an early spring, with most people hoping for an early spring. During my later years on the road, I watched on February 2nd with great anticipation and hope that

Punxsutawney Phil would not see his shadow! To me, it was some sort of lifeline that I held on to, to get me out of a rough winter!

Have you ever wondered how we became so reliant on a little furry creature? Relying on a groundhog to predict the future? To give us a bit of hope? According to Wikipedia, Groundhog Day is a popular tradition observed in Canada and the United States on February 2nd. It comes from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den and winter will persist for six more weeks. If it does not see its shadow because of cloudiness, spring will arrive early. While the

tradition remains popular in modern times, studies have found no consistent correlation between a groundhog seeing its shadow and the subsequent arrival time of spring-like weather.

News sources say that since the groundhog’s first prediction in 1887, Phil has seen his shadow 104 times, while he has failed to spot it on just 20 occasions. Ten years are missing from the record but Phil has issued forecasts without exception. This is the second year in a row Phil has not seen his shadow and the first time on record in consecutive years.

Another source of hope we found ourselves relying on was the Magic 8 Ball. Some of us are old enough to remember when the Magic 8 Ball came out. Kids and adults alike put their hope in the answers the Magic 8 Ball gave, hoping they were the answers they were looking for. I vividly

remember my grandfather, who owned a very successful construction company, shaking the Magic 8 Ball that I’d just gotten for Christmas, asking if we’d have an early spring. He was hurt when the ball gave him the answer he didn’t want.

I know for the most part that it’s all in fun, but how many people actually take Punxy Phil, or the Magic 8 Ball seriously? We rely on things for hope and these are just an example of how vulnerable we can be when we’re looking for hope, even if it is in fun. With hope there is possibility. With hope there are alternatives. With hope there is help. Sometimes, it’s the common struggles of paying bills, putting food on the table and keeping an income, where we lose hope. During those times, we must remember how we made it through the tough times of the past.

I’ll leave you with a quote I really like: You must have the personal connection to really anchor your feelings of hope. That anchoring will allow you to trust the hope and create momentum and mental positivity which can only lead to a better future.



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