• Rob Butterfield


“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

#Hope - photo by Rob Butterfield. Stagsden 30.04.20

I woke early and restless this morning – about 5.00am – with, perhaps for the first time since the lockdown, the weight of the ‘black dog’ on my shoulders. I don’t know why but today felt different. Yesterday had been, creatively, a bit of a washout. I’d had that ‘block’ that artists talk about. I went to bed early feeling exhausted.

Unable to get back to sleep I got up around 5.45am, pulled on my joggers and headed to the kitchen for my obligatory cup of green tea before habitually settling down in front of the morning news. Within 30 minutes I was feeling lower than ever – exasperated at the incessant negativity of the media; surely what we need in this current time is for everybody to pull together for the common good and give us all some hope rather than this never-ending doom and gloom. In the end I took the advice of Dr Hilary Jones to switch off from all the news and followed the guidance of the weather girl who recommended getting out for a walk early today ahead of the rain.

I washed, dressed, pulled on my walking boots and headed out of the front door without waking my wife and son. I walked for an hour. I passed the village church as the bells struck 8.00am breaking the silence that had only, until then, been complimented by bird song. I took just one picture on my walk, the one seen above which I have entitled ‘#Hope’ as a result of the way my mood had swung during that time. The light was perfect, the view unspoilt and the skilfully ploughed field showing signs of new life, signs of hope maybe. I stopped for a moment to take it all in. “We’ll come through this” I thought. I reflected on how lucky I was to live among and still be able to enjoy such beautiful surroundings. I really feel for those confined to their homes and unable to enjoy the freedom of open spaces. But to everybody I say “we will get through this and the one thing you have that no-one can take away is hope.”

For the remainder of my walk I reflected on the things we must be grateful for. I reflected on the conversation I‘d had with my dear friend Chris George yesterday. It was a long overdue catch up. We spent 30 minutes on the phone chatting about our families and the crazy situations we find ourselves in. Chris is a top-level musician currently playing guitar in West End shows alongside doing a bit of tour management work. I say ‘currently’ but like me he is currently out of work with all of his gigs cancelled/postponed until, hopefully, later this year. But we had a laugh, we talked about how lucky we are to be doing what we do and also how our current situation isn’t actually that difficult (financial challenges and missing friends and family aside) – all that is being asked of us is to stay at home. His Mum works for the NHS and she is stressed to the max right now – I know what I’d rather be doing! Chatting with Chris yesterday was uplifting and full of positivity. I’d urge anyone feeling a bit low to make contact with those you’ve been meaning to chat to for ages but just haven’t found the time. Maybe now you have that time on your hands. Use it wisely.

I passed a few people up and about whilst on my walk. Others exercising, dog walking, the man in his truck from the recycling centre collecting waste from the farm and the small trading estate. Everyone smiled and exchanged (social distance abiding) pleasantries. It seems we all had hope that one day things will improve… and one day they will. I returned home refreshed and feeling altogether more positive. I made myself another tea, put some Eddi Reader on the Amazon music player (I just love her voice) and settled down to post my one and only picture from my walk on social media. I struggled to write a short and concise paragraph to accompany the aforementioned pic – '#hope' didn’t really capture what that picture meant to me. On its own it’s not that special and I really wanted to share the story behind it. So, I picked up my laptop and recounted the events of today. Why? I’ll explain.

When I first started this blog I wrote a post entitled ‘PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER LAD’ talking about my battle with depression. I was hesitant about posting it at first but the responses I received via messages were heart-warming; some were outpourings from friends who also suffered but felt that they could now also share their challenges after reading my post. From that perspective I think it helped a few people so my musings for today are taking a similar approach - maybe they will resonate and give just a little comfort to someone in these distressing times. If it helps just one person then I’ll be happy with that.

There you have it. In true Upstart and Oligarch style another self-indulgent missive that may just resonate with someone. It may give someone hope… and in current times hope is something that we all need and what we can all have – and there aint no-one who can take that away.

Stay safe people. Much love x

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