Hope In The Madness
We Get To Choose The World We Want to Live In
How are you holding onto hope these days?
When someone asks me, “How’s life treating you these days,” the answer is usually, “Well…there’s a lot of really painful stuff in life, but there’s also some really beautiful, life-giving, joy-inducing stuff, too. It’s both.”
Their eyes glaze over…they just wanted to hear a simple “Great!”
Other times, people look me in the eyes and tell me “Yes! That’s how I feel, too!”
Isn’t it true that life really seems to be about finding balance while riding these up and down waves? After living five and a half decades, I really shouldn’t be surprised that some days in the surf are painful, boring, and exhausting. But I should also never forget that there are many days just waiting to be cherished…the sun and the waves calling out to me to join in their grand chorus, enjoying the profound and simple moments of joy, love, and peace life offers.
Hope, for me, remembers that there is still a lot of good in the world—amazing things people are doing to make the world a better place for all people, tremendous adventures to go on, creative projects still undiscovered, and major movements of love happening all around…and inside of…us. There is still a lot of opportunity available for you and I to do some really incredible things!
Every day is another choice on how I’m going to look at the world. And trust me, I don’t always choose the sunny side.
Some days the darkness feels very strong—the madness of the world shouting above any amount of hope I can muster. In addition to the overwhelming amount of pain and chaos in my social media feed and on the news, a lot of the madness comes from inside my own head. Pain from past broken relationships can overwhelm the hope for healthy relationships. Feeling a lack of career progress can overwhelm me into apathy that anything will ever get better. Sometimes old man body pain can really stink, convincing me that my best days are behind me.
But then I start working out in the gym and I begin building muscles I never knew I had. And some of those body pains disintegrate as my weight decreases. And I find myself walking a little taller, clothes fitting a bit better, and my smile widening. It’s a miracle!
Or I have a conversation with a friend who reminds me how much I’m loved just the way I am, and that there’s no need to perform or prove anything to maintain that love. It’s a miracle!
Or I start to look at the business side of my life and realize I’ve landed in the most glorious, stress-free place of creating my own schedule where I can dream up (and dive-into) new creative projects whenever I want. It’s truly a miracle!
Then I look around and realize there’s so much beauty in my life that I can’t write a long enough gratitude list.
Hope is a choice. It’s a perspective I’m choosing to have. I’m not waiting for it to arrive. It’s also not living naively, thinking only good stuff is ahead…cause like I said, there will be some good stuff, yes, but also some really icky stuff, too.
When I start to slip into hopelessness, it’s an erroneous belief that no more good is ever going to happen in life, regardless of how much good has already happened. It’s literally forgetting about all the good that has occurred (many times coming from out of nowhere) and assuming that no more good will happen. Does that make sense? Not one bit. But sometimes feelings can overwhelm logic. And there are also days when choosing to feel sad, mad, depressed, or even apathetic can feel like the closest thing to being in control of very out-of-control circumstances.
I have often said,
“Hopelessness thinks it can see the future. But hope knows it can’t.”
It’s this awareness and embrace of our unknown future being full of possibilities that defines hope. My hope believes there’s power in leaning into the unknown with an attitude that what I do can matter deeply. That I have the ability to bring light and love into what feels like a very dark world.
When we choose to be people of hope we are participating in the creation of a magnificent world of which we’ve only dreamed. Thank you for being a part of this grand mission together with me.
As always, I’d be honored to hear from you! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post, how to you hang on to hope, or any questions you might have!
In a fascinating article in the Guardian, writer Rebecca Solnit talks about this embrace of the unknown. She describes it beautifully:
“Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognise uncertainty, you recognise that you may be able to influence the outcomes – you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists adopt the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It is the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand. We may not, in fact, know them afterwards either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone.”
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