I missed the memo about hope.
Call me Pollyanna, call me Candide, just don’t call me late for dinner. I’ll admit it…I’m a pretty hopeless optimist. I’ll even go so far as to make the following statement:
There is no such thing as false hope; all hope is true.
When I say that all hope is true, what I mean is that even when your hopes are disappointed, hope in and of itself is still good. Hope is creative and emotionally productive in ways that make it an end unto itself.
Let’s consider an example…let’s say you’ve applied for your dream job. There’s only so much you can do to influence the hiring decision, and once you’ve done what you can do, you’re left alone with your own heart and head to wait for a decision. And while you wait, you can hope. You can envision your happiness and fulfillment in your new job and contemplate all the tangible and intangible rewards that might come your way if you get the offer. Or, you can choose not to hope. You can operate under the assumption that you are not getting an offer and therefore not entertain any notions of how the new job might change your life for the better.
Some might say a bit pessimism in the job search scenario noted above is just self-preservation. After all, if rejection does come, the pessimistic person is better prepared, right? But flip that frown upside down and contemplate that the hopeful person, just by hoping, becomes more prepared for their success. (And while just hoping for something to happen doesn’t magically make it happen, when you hope, you might be vibrating the molecules of the universe in a particular way which helps to shape a happy outcome, but what the bleep do I know…)
While I generally take the Andy Dufresne approach to the positive power of hope, I did learn one disclaimer this morning when I was (shockingly!) listening to NPR. I heard this story about a young Libyan man, Hisham Matar, whose father was kidnapped in 1990 and has not been seen or heard from since. In describing how he has coped with this awful thing that happened he said:
‘Living in hope is a really terrible thing,’ Matar says. ‘People speak about hope most of the time as a very positive thing. … [But] it’s a very dispossessing thing, it’s a very difficult thing to live with. When you’ve been living in hope for a long time as I have, suddenly you realize that certainty is far more desirable than hope.’
Damn. Doesn’t that just break your heart? So hope is awesome when there is a knowable timeline for getting an answer to what you’re hoping about. But when it’s possible that you’ll never get an answer, then hope can become a bit of a quagmire, I suppose.
But nonetheless, I hope I never stop hoping. Memo received.
Memo received as well.
Since reading your posts on Memos Received, I realize how many I receive as well. Thank you for making me so much more aware of the memos being sent & received. Bravo!
When I take a moment to reflect on the many sources of life lessons, I usually figure out that I’ve been beaten over the head with a particular message from a variety of messengers, so it’s a fun exercise to try to weave those messages into something coherent. Thanks for reading!
Great post. Slight tangent (!) but reminds me of my thoughts on homeopathy etc – may be a placebo effect but if that works don’t knock it. Like you say, hope can breed positive outcomes. A complete lack of hope would be a miserable existence and against the human need to dream.
Thanks for reading, Helen! And I never underestimate the placebo effect–hoping and believing are medicines in their own way, I think.