A reflection on hope
Where do we look for hope in an imbalanced world? Nature. Religion. Imagination. Meditation. Art. Music. Books. Alcohol. Drugs. Children. Schools. Technology. When I was young, my dad said that hope is not something I could find by looking under the cushions, though I might find a nickel there. Nope. I was responsible for generating hope all by myself. What else is there? What is the alternative if I didn’t spark that hope? Running headlong into a brick wall didn’t appeal to me (at the time), though Dad neglected to give me instructions on just how I was to generate those sparks in the face of an increasingly dark and imbalanced world.
Around the same time, he also tried to explain infinity to me, and there were times I thought that the act of spontaneously generating hope, all by myself, might be every bit as hard to accomplish as his infinity is to grasp. Faced with the death of loved ones (his own death at an early age), painful loss, self-doubt, imprisonment, drastic shifts in my own contexts and the world (known and unknown) run amok, I scratched in an unfamiliar earth, overturned rotted logs and reached to lift the fabric of the heavens to peek toward that impossible infinity to find what I couldn’t find within. Just how have we humans been able to endure beyond famine and conquest and disease and unthinkable cruelty anyway? When I felt I couldn’t generate one tiny iota of hope from within, I turned to poetry about the dark times. I remembered songs in the jungle, tinged with blood and dignity (I have heard them). There is Guernica. There is dark chocolate. And sunflowers that bend to the earth and leave seeds in the ground.
We have models for hope and its expression in the face of despair. A spark can seem a sun when all else is dark. I’ll take it.