“Hope is being able to see that there is light
despite all of the darkness.”~Desmond Tutu.
The wonderful thing about being a child is that life is full of mystery and pleasant surprises. Until life teaches us differently, we awake looking forward to what each new day will bring. The other day my grandson wanted to take his aunt’s cats for a ride in the car. I tried to explain to him that cats don’t really like going for rides, but he told me he wanted to take them to Christmas. Christmas? Yes, he told me, Christmas is around the corner, so he wanted to take them around the corner to Christmas. So then we had to have a discussion about metaphors. Language can be tricky!
I was thinking this week about the power of hope, a motivating force that can keep us following paths even when the end seems too far away, or impossible to reach. The opposite, to be hopeless, is a dark hole from which it is very hard to climb. I heard recently of a part of Africa where the HIV rate is very high. The healthcare workers realized that it was so prevalent that most people believed it was inevitable that they would contract it and therefore they could not be convinced to take precautions. In an experiment, investigators began to provide different information, which made the risk of contracting HIV sound much lower than it actually was. They found that people changed their behavior once they thought they had a better chance of not contracting HIV. In other words, they no longer believed it was hopeless.
We have high hopes for our children, for our lives, for our dreams. Sometimes life knocks us down to size and makes us more realistic. But even in our worst moments, most of us still hope for the best, still believe in happy endings. The first time we fly up above the clouds and see how bright blue the sky is, how brilliant the sunshine, only to make our descent back through the clouds to a rainy overcast world, we learn that basic truth. We may not be able to see it, but somewhere the sun is always shining.
As I thought about Hope, I wondered whether optimism (being hopeful) came from a similar root. But the word hope apparently comes from Germanic origin, while optimism comes from the Latin, meaning the best (optimum). And in looking up definitions, I found hope, for being optimistic also means to believe that good will conquer evil.
When we buy into doomsday messaging, to a philosophy that there is so much evil in the world (how often have you been told that these are the end of times?) we forget the power of hope. We need to practice hopefulness, to be actively optimistic, in order to seek out the positive and amplify it. And there is plenty to be hopeful about, even in these times of some of the most negative messaging ever heard.
I don’t know how young I was when my father taught me the saying: “It is better to travel hopefully, than to arrive.” It took me a while to process what this meant, after all, we all live for the destination. Those long trips to the beach across pot-holed roads, stuck behind slow moving trucks, jerked and rocked around impossible corners, how was that journey better than arriving at the beach? But the message was to view the journey itself as part of the adventure, instead of something to pass through. Sometimes the anticipation of an upcoming event can bring as much pleasure as the event itself! Living in hope means treasuring each moment as you live it, because you are not worried about the outcome. Living in hope means you are assured of a happy ending.
We often fall prone to impatience, wanting to achieve goals quickly, expecting speedy results, the instant gratification. The power of hope helps us to know that everything that happens is for our greater good, even when it looks like an obstacle. But like any healthy habit, we have to actively practice being hopeful for it to become automatic, an instinctive response to any adversity. As I pondered on this theme this week, I thought of the old adage: Where there is life, there is hope. And thought that the better mantra would be: Where there is hope, there is life! For as long as we live in hope, we are living! Once we give up hope, we may as well give up on our lives.
The author of the line ‘hope springs eternal’ was an English poet (Alexander Pope). His ‘Essay on Man’ helped to promote the school of optimistic philosophy. Thanks to Mr Google I have learned a lot this week! In these challenging times it is important to keep looking for the sunshine behind the clouds, to keep believing that good will overcome evil, and to live in hope.
Have a wonderful weekend, Family! On this fabulous Friday morning, let us be hopeful together, let us resolve to imagine the bright skies even when it is pouring with rain, to remind each other to stay positive, to travel hopefully together.