Weary and worried are we Americans.
In these dog days of summer, even the smallest of things seem foreboding. The grass is withered. The air conditioner is leaking. The kids are cranky. The mask is suffocating. The virus is spreading. And a dreadful election season is on the horizon.
What a remarkably hopeful fragment of a phrase that seems to me. Yes, we are in the midst of economic collapse, a worsening pandemic and a cultural crisis that has set our country on fire. All these things are true, and yet, there is hope.
Our scientists are leading an extraordinary effort to conquer a dangerous and fast-moving foe, the new coronavirus. Our business community is forging ahead to try to revive a faltering economy. Our political leaders are wrestling with big and painful issues. All of us are struggling with unprecedented challenges but we haven’t been stripped of hope.
Enthusiastic hope is a bedrock virtue of America. To quote the philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success… put your whole soul into it … nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
For me, that isn’t just a hackneyed quote. It’s deeply personal. I remember the day, years ago, when we acquired our first store in Hanover. After signing the papers at the lawyer’s office, I drove over to the store, unlocked the door and flung it open like we owned the place, which we did.
In my enthusiasm, though, I’d forgotten to disable the alarms. They started braying incessantly. In a matter of minutes, our parking lot was filled with police cars with their accusing sirens and lights. Oops.
Enthusiasm is part of our culture at FCG, and part of my pep talk this morning with my college-age son as he wearily prepared for a long, sweltering day on the delivery truck. “Try some enthusiasm!” I suggested. “When you show up for your first delivery at Mrs. Carter’s, you might try saying with a big smile, ‘We have a beautiful sofa for you! Where would you like us to put it?’”
Ok, so his response to my pep talk might have been a less than enthusiastic. But I planted a seed. In these dog days of summer, in the middle of a pandemic, that seems like a victory to me.