Hope is a toughie. Not what it is, it’s kinda primal that way, but in the ways people interpret it. Acquaintances reliably label me as a positive, optimistic, hopeful person. Intimates have an embarrassing tendency to burst out laughing at that description.
The positive and optimistic adjectives do not fit well. But hopeful? Yes. I am that. Even in my bleakest depressive moments, or especially then, hope is what keeps me going.
Hope is the thing with feathers, Emily Dickinson said, and it is birdlike in that it looks fragile–and it can be–but it has a unique kind of soaring strength too. Greek myth left hope locked in Pandora’s box not as a gift to humanity, but as a twisted kind of ironic joke on us all. It stays with us even when all reason and experience tells us to despair.
It’s infinite and nigh-inextinguishable, integral to the spirit. It isn’t something that needs shoring up. More often it needs a good housecleaning–clear away all the clutter of worry and there it is, patiently waiting to be re-discovered.
Now, I’m not saying, “Think positive, and all will be well!” NOPE. At least for me, the trappings of false cheer weigh down true hope and sap its strength, make it into something I instinctively want to reject rather than embrace.
Pictures like today’s feature image often annoy the hell out of me because they’ll arrive surrounded by peppy, burbly phrases that require me to ignore, diminish, and reject the everyday miseries and true horrors of reality. That isn’t hope. That’s denial.
Hope is stronger than that. Hope says, “It’s bad, it’s awful, but it isn’t too much.”
Hope says, “I will face this,” not “It’s all good.” Positive thinking is based on refusing to even see adversity, and I loathe that idea with every fiber of my analytical, problem-seolving being.
Hope thrives despite, not because. Suffocate hope with optimism and it becomes a weak shadow of itself. That’s my mindset anyway.
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image:diego_torrez via pixabay.com