So, what is hope?
To me, these days, it isn’t what you think…
I didn’t always embrace hope. Instead, I could find hopelessness in the most hopeful situations. Doom and gloom. “Why does this always happen to me?” “”Why doesn’t life ever go the way I want it to like it does for him, her, and them?”
Yeah, like that.
There were reasons that were actually excuses for my attitude, excuses that stretched…well, a long way back. There were tough times in my life—like everyone.
It seems strange, but for all my pessimism there was always a part of me that clung to hope. I saw my future as I believed it should look. I made plans. I expected life to go a certain way because that’s what my plans told me would happen.
Because I hoped they would.
The 2000’s were a terrible decade for me on a personal level, but by late 2008 it seemed as though positive changes were in the offing. Yes, I had a job I despised and was surrounded with painful memories, but I was thinking about writing again and that was a good thing, right?
Depends upon the path chosen to get there.
I’d saved money. I was single with no ties. My health was excellent. My limitations were none. Or should I say, the limitations others were setting on me were none?
The limitations I set upon myself were boundless.
But I didn’t see it that way, for my hope was to write. Even better, I wanted to write full-time. The path before me seemed clear. Surely, no matter what, hope would find me.
And then the “can’t procession” started…
“I can’t walk away from the wage I’m earning.”
“I can’t let go of the benefits I have at this job.”
“I can’t move elsewhere when I know this city so well.”
“I can’t become a writer if I give up the security I have now.”
The can’t parade went on and on and on like the last cassette tape in existence that didn’t want to die. There I was miserable and burnt-out and yearning for new horizons and I skillfully talked myself out of moving forward. I told myself that I had hope and so hope would come to pass. Yup, I’d write on the side when I had time and eventually achieve my goals.
At least, I was hopeful it would work out that way.
I had the right hope, but provided the wrong path for it to find me because I wasn’t willing to do what needed done.
So, I was tested—again.
I got sick. Very sick.
From 2009 to 2011 I did little more than exist. I couldn’t write because the drugs rendered my thinking intermittent at best. I sat in my apartment gasping for air. My savings were gone. I couldn’t work. It seemed that all hope was lost.
But it wasn’t.
In my desperation I opted for aggressive medical treatment. I started walking, a little at first, but further with each passing week. I started writing again and, more important, began studying the writing craft and the publishing industry. There were health setbacks here and there, but I learned to manage the setbacks and my limitations.
Realized hope, I came to see, wasn’t a free-ride, a gift, or wishful thinking. When we believe it’s gone it’s because we’ve become blind to the possibilities that will make it a reality. Though we have preconceived notions about the form our hope will take, the reality is often different.
I learned that hope, like life, is messy.
I learned, too, that hope isn’t free.
Hope, when it comes to pass, is an opportunity. It’s work. It’s being brave and wise enough to stand up and take its hand when it reaches out to you. It’s about striving, it’s about risk, and it’s about doing everything in your power to make it real.
It can also be about knowing when to accept help.
When the first signs of illness manifested I shunned aid and advice, which served to make my hopes a more distant and indistinct dream. Later, after I’d learned, I accepted the help that allowed me to reach a point where I could act. The price for the advice was setting my pride aside.
So hope isn’t just the wanting, it’s doing all you can do to make that which is wanted possible.
That’s what hope is to me.
Now, I hold it close always, I work to make it possible, and when it manifests…