“Hope and Fear cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Invite one to stay.” – Maya Angelou
Like many if not most of us, I am having a hard time staying focused and optimistic today, as the post-Election Day mood remains uncertain and anxiety-filled. After a terrible night’s sleep, I decided that a walk along the Inner Harbor was needed.
I was greeted by a stunning cloudless sky and crisp fall temperatures. As I worked out the usual kinks in my aging legs, I hit my stride, opened my mind and began to clear my head.
With activity and exercise as the primary drivers for my walks, these strolls also serve as a wonderful way to sort through the racket in my noodle. I have been truly enjoying re-discovering this city, and seeing the various sights and features that ring the Inner Harbor has been a highlight.
As I wended my way around the World Trade Center (side note – one of the late, great IM Pei’s firm’s lesser known works), I passed the 9/11 memorial, with its twisted steel sitting atop white stone cubes etched with the names of those Marylanders who perished on that awful day. As I rounded the corner of that 5-sided building, my view focused on the USS Torsk, the WWII submarine responsible for sinking the last two Japanese vessels before the war in the Pacific ended.
I reflected on these two symbols of past difficult times for our country, when darkness and fear prevailed and hope was hard to come by. Yet here I was, out walking around our fair city on a gorgeous fall morning. Some how hope eventually won during those dark chapters.
I continued around the new high rises where Harbor East meets the Patapsco and saw something I never saw before – the bottom of the harbor. Granted, I was adjacent to a shallow area, but still, as the sun hit the surface, it shown through the water and lit up the muddy bottom. Was our notoriously nasty harbor water starting to become a little better? If clarity is an indicator, then there is cause for hope.
I continued to my turn-around point – the end of Broadway Pier in Fells Point – and stopped to look over at one of our classic landmarks, the Domino Sugar factory. The large ship named “Rainbow” remained tied up, sitting higher in the water than when I last saw her, signaling that the removal of the raw sugar cane from her holds was nearing an end.
I then looked down in the water and saw numerous large jellyfish pulsating near the surface. Much has been made of their proliferation this year, and many agree that it’s another sign that our harbor may be turning a corner environmentally. Hope was in the air (or in the water) again.
As I turned around and headed back, I walked beside the Living Classrooms Foundation’s Fredrick Douglas – Isaac Myers Maritime Park, with its wonderful sculpture of Mr. Douglas’s head, and the three old, still-operating ships next to the dry dock facility. Gems like this only help to remind us all of the struggles our country has endured, yet here was a wonderful example of creating learning opportunities out of those times.
Walking in the still shadowed side of the Marriott Waterfront hotel, I passed Mr. Trash Wheel, his water wheel slowly turning as he ingested flotsam and jetsam that had worked its way down the Jones Falls, intercepting it before it polluted the Harbor. Another sign of hope?
There remains much to worry about, and as I write this, it is still not known who will be sworn in on January 20, 2021. Yet this morning’s urban hike around the Harbor helped put things in perspective for me.
While Fear may be attempting to elbow away Hope, I am choosing to invite Hope to stay.