“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
― Emily Dickinson”
I read recently that there are over two hundred million copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul in print. This one series includes story-on-story of hope that sing to those without hope.
Listening to or reading the news can clobber us with a world without hope, but perhaps hope is a choice even in circumstances that seem hopeless.
One of my favorite children’s books was called Pollyanna. Eleanor H. Porter was the author, and it was published in 1913. (No, I didn’t read it until the 1950’s.) The main character, eleven-year-old Pollyanna was the most optimistic girl in literature. “When you look for the bad, expecting it, you will get it. When you know you will find the good—you will get that…. ,” she pronounced.
Pollyanna Whittier is a young orphan who goes to live in Beldingsville, Vermont, with her wealthy, but stern and cold, Aunt Polly. Her aunt was concerned about appearances, propriety, and local politics. For Aunt Polly, her niece is a duty, and not welcome.
Pollyanna’s father taught her “The Glad Game,” which encouraged his daughter to look for the good in every situation. This was an on-the-spot lesson about life when the doll Pollyanna was wanting for Christmas was not in the missionary box; only a pair of crutches fit into the barrel.
Bottom line, she learns to face adversity and challenges with a smile on her face.
Even when her aunt puts her into an attic room without carpet or pictures, Pollyanna enjoys the beautiful view of the town. She passes this philosophy on to other residents, before Aunt Polly finally realizes that there is another way to handle disappointments, rather than griping.
When Pollyanna is hit by a car and is paralyzed, she can’t find anything to be happy about with this tragedy. With time and encouragement from Aunt Polly, as well as therapy in a hospital, Pollyanna learns to walk again. Because of her paralysis, she learns how important her legs are and is glad for them.
In 1960, Disney produced the movie Pollyanna, starring Hayley Mills, and Hayley Mills won an Oscar for her performance.
In 2002 the citizens of Littleton, New Hampshire unveiled a bronze statue in honor of Eleanor H. Porter, author of the Pollyanna books and one of the town’s most famous residents. The statue depicts a smiling Pollyanna, arms flung wide in greeting. Sixteen books by different authors have been written about Pollyanna, so young readers are still enjoying the mind-boggling hope in this young girl’s life.
Believe it or not, Pollyanna was a made-for-TV movie last fall by PBS, and a new generation of girls was introduced to this orphan with a positive outlook on life.
We all know the amazing story of another young girl, who overcame her disabilities. Helen Keller said, “Keep your face to the sunshine, and you cannot see a shadow.”
It is still January, and we are still in a new year/new beginning mode. Why don’t we choose a smile, rather than a frown? Can’t we look for something good in the midst of disappointment?
I have heard that it takes less muscles to smile than to frown, and I, for one, don’t need anymore wrinkles.