Hope is an essential although elusive ingredient to human life. As children, we may rejoice in the moment more effectively than do adults, but we still emulate and aspire to the power and effectiveness of adulthood. This too is a form of hope. My grandmother told me when she was about 90 years old that hope is the essence of life itself. At the time, I didn’t really agree with her, because I then aspired to something more concrete and attainable than wispy hope. Hope speaks of the journey and the process of life more than of success and arrival. It also seems to reach towards the future rather than satisfy itself with the present, which is somewhat reprehensible. Still, while I aspire to contentment with my present self and circumstances, my heart continues to yearn.
Hope is also a beacon, a method of gratitude, and an opportunity for optimism. When I am hopeful, I don’t envision being victimized by life – I dream of beauty, wonderful relationships, exciting adventures. Hope is a silver thread of romance in everyday life, which can easily become a complex tangle of worry, mundane problems requiring solutions, and the drudgery of work without creative spark. When I am hopeful, I bring to my own table possibilities of a new design for my life and a way out of old, time-worn patterns of behavior. Had I not been hopeful about finding a new life in France, I probably would never have attempted to live there nor would I have pursued my desire to live there definitively. Had I envisioned the challenges and difficulties that I did eventually encounter prior to my journey, I would have most likely sombered into discouragement.
Today, I hope for wonderful friendships. My picture of intimacy focuses on stimulating conversations over a cup of tea at my (or someone else’s) kitchen table. I fantasize about gardens and digging, nestling beautiful plants into fertile, welcoming soil. My dreams linger over lovingly prepared meals, of having the leisure to wake up when I am no longer tired, to walk until my feet are tired by my eyes and mind are delighted. Hope also formulates daydreams of financial freedom, unhinging my life from the serfdom of a daily grind and transforming my days into a meditation on joy and art. My worries are tranquilized by the milky comfort of hope, which medicates the accumulated pains of disappointment, transforming what could become settling for less into living today as an intoxicating dream of optimal selfhood.