There’s probably a reason why there are two phrases for “good luck” in French: « bonne chance » and « bon courage ».

Maybe it’s because part of luck is chance, and part of it has to do with courage.

But perhaps Tomi Ungerer, a skilled French wordsmith and illustrator whose picture books I’ve admired for years, would disagree. In his New York Times opinion piece, “An Artist’s Interpretation of 2017,” Ungerer interpreted 2017 with a pale rainbow being consumed by a sort of dark sludge in a wasteland. He wrote:

“To be a realist today means to be a prophet of doom. Apprentice sorcerers have changed the world. Nature has been raped beyond repair. We are at the brink of a new age, of darkness at noon. With children condemned to survive, let us salvage enough bare essentials to promote respect and good will. Don’t hope — cope!”

tomi-ungerer-art
Art by Tomi Ungerer

I don’t know if this is some sort of reverse psychology tactic meant to inflame people into proactive, optimistic disagreement. If so, thanks, Mr. Ungerer. I needed this. It’s working.

Hope can be exhausting. But coping is a valid activity only if you’re a barnacle. The future is not led by people who wake up and say, “Ugh, time to cope.”

Creative leaders don’t do this.

Instead, we are far too busy innovating and outlining another story.

We can only create with hope and courage. We might run low on one or the other (or both), but we can help each other refill, we can offer a little reassurance, we can call each other out on hiding, and we can remind each other why we do this hard work. We can also look back on a year with gratitude.

Call us deluded. Call us bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Call us young whippersnappers.

We can barely hear you. We’re already racing ahead, leading the future.

Bon courage.