The Matter of Hope

Fair warning – the part of the Positive Thinking Blog Goddess is being played today by Senora Buzzkill.

Aside from helping people solve problems and protect themselves, my favorite part of my job is getting out and meeting all kinds of interesting people. I recently had coffee with the fascinating Kate. During the course of conversation, the subject of Hope arose. Kate shared her theory that Hope is neither created nor destroyed, rather, it is redistributed. Her thoughts captured my imagination, which has just run amok with them ever since.

Within an isolated system (a person) Hope can be neither created nor destroyed, only change form, like both mass and energy. I’m sure this parallel is all kinds of Swiss cheese with logical holes; however, I like the notion of it – the Law of Conservation of Hope.

We were discussing Hope as it relates to coping with cataclysmic loss – of a parent, child, spouse, sibling, friend or in cases of natural disaster. I looked for instances of Hope’s metamorphosis during times of loss for me: my mother’s death after a long bout with cancer and my dear friend’s death in a car wreck.

hope-2-570x379I did some research on Mother’s diagnosis of mantle cell lymphoma and found no survival rate for that particular kind of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. My research did not leave room for hope of survival for Mother, only that perhaps she had been misdiagnosed. Even that quickly changed. Hope then centered on handling this correctly – in a way that would be honest with my son (but not gruesome), supportive for my mother and as healthy as possible for the rest of us. Those hopes ended up centered on controlling the collateral damage – people don’t get cancer, families do – and finally hoping that it would all be over soon. (And we’re not even going to discuss the incredible guilt that goes with that!)  Finally, the hope was that I would get my life back. The metamorphoses of Hope in this experience were over 3.5 years.

Joey’s death was much more abrupt. I found out in a 6:30 Monday morning phone call. I hoped Larry was wrong. Then I just hoped that I would remember to breathe again. I hoped that for weeks. Then, I hoped there would come a day when I wouldn’t miss him. Now I hope that it never does. These metamorphoses have continued for 20 years.

Hope is our coping mechanism. It is the thing that gets us through the unbearable as surely as it enhances the joyful.  Even for those we think have lost hope, maybe their’s centers on the hereafter being better than the now. Maybe even then, Hope exists in some form. It is, I think, the genesis of faith.

(Or maybe contemplation of Hope is the path to madness as surely as the effort to define Quality was for the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.)

This idea is really intriguing to me; so, I invite you along for a little audience participation today.  What are your thoughts? Share them with us below. (You do have to supply some basic information before your comments are sent to me for approval.  Don’t worry, though, you can give your name as Anonymous. Signing up doesn’t put you on a spam list for me,)

I really would love to hear what you think.


6 thoughts on “The Matter of Hope”

  1. Hope is directed to what ever is important in everyone’s lives. When we lose hope in something, we gain hope in something else. Sometimes hope is all a person has to keep them going day to day. When all hope is lost due to something tragic or physically/mentally traumatic, hope will become misguided and lead people down a very dark path. e.g suicide (Where one hopes that buy taking his/her own life the pain and suffering will end). Some will find hope in scriptures to help relieve the pain and suffering. Your blog post is spot on about hope!!!

    1. Thanks, Tom. I am just really intrigued by this idea and the conversation made me think of Hope in a way that previously had not. The idea of Hope being a constant, indestructible thing is one that will keep my mind busy for awhile yet, I’m sure. I’m glad that it’ll be giving you mental workouts, as well!

  2. “The light at the end of the tunnel” is a sub phrase for hope. I think of when my Mother died on the operating table only to be revived by her very capable Doctors. She told me of the “peace” as she walked down the hallway toward the light. I think that peace is truly what we seek in our quest for “hope”. My Mother was very angry that her physical life had been saved but I was very thankful that I got 7 more years with this Angel I called Mother. Her hope was to have “peace” and mine was to have her. I like Kate’s thoughts. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  3. I believe hope is very important in our lives. I have too lost hope about losses. I know yours are very hard losses, but I know you have become stronger by dealing with them instead of stuffing them. It always takes time to regain hope. Faith, Hope and Love are very important, but the greatest is Love. To hope, you have to have faith, to love unconditionally you have to have hope. I love this article! Thanks for sharing. You have given me hope with nutrition! Something I have never known.

  4. Your blog reminded me of something I read in Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao Te Ching. The exerpt goes:

    Hope and fear are both phantoms that arise from thinking of self. When you don’t see the self as self, what do you have to fear?

    I was initially shocked when I read this. How can hope and fear be described in the same way? I knew fear as a bad thing to have but I always thought hope was needed to survive in this world. Upon reflection, however, I did see some truth in the statement. If you can look at the world as it is and accept it just the way it is at this very moment, there is no need for fear or hope. It is what it is. Acceptance may be more the key to lasting peace.

    I always enjoy your thought provoking blogs. Keep ’em coming!

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