J.P., the main character of Raymond Carver’s short story “Where I Am Calling From,” when a young boy fell down a dry well. Trapped at the bottom of the well with pebbles and dirt falling on him, isolated from the world, he feared he would never be rescued. He yelled and yelled for his father and wet his pants. But the circle of blue sky above him gave him hope; an occasional cloud drifted by, and now and then a bird flew overhead. The hope that sustained him as a boy in the well persisted throughout his life.
J.P., like all of us, needed hope, for without a circle of blue sky, tiny as it may be, we fall into our own dry well of isolation; separated from others, we use alcohol or opioids to self-treat depression, or binge on TV or the Internet, or compulsively eat, or at the very worse, end it with a bullet through the brain.
Human life is structured by hope for a future where we connect with others through love and friendship, develop the interior life through poetry and music, and seek wisdom through philosophy and theology. We must maintain a circle of blue sky, especially in times of deep gloom, but not forget that at times we are trapped at the bottom of the well and then try to understand how we fell in the well. Yet, we should never forget that the sun always shines and that the circle of blue sky is a hemisphere.