What is hope? It easier to tell you what it is NOT. It is not an emotion or a feeling. Hope is more of a way of thinking and living. I’ve grown up in a household where there was little hope. We lived from day to day, existing instead of living. Sometimes I still find myself living in that mode, just kind of surfing life barely keeping my head above water.
What is it that has kept me alive all these years and helped me survive insurmountable odds? Hope. Somehow in all the chaos and fear I clung on to that little scrap of thought in the back of my mind that someday things would be better and that someday I would be happy. Now I find myself quickly approaching sixty and I have just begun to live. That sucks, but I have that stubborn hope that somehow I’ll beat the odds again and gain a position in a career I’ll savor and enjoy. I have tried to end my life several times beginning at a very young age, what a shame it would have been had I succeeded. I would never have seen the day when all of my abusers were dead and cold in their graves. I never would have known the thrill of learning about Quantum Mechanics (I know, I’m a nerd) or the images of Pluto we received last July.
There is so much living in that word hope. There is hope in defeat too, and in death. I believe deep down that even though I have lost 55 years of my life to the abuse issues it isn’t a true defeat. It only becomes a defeat if I so choose to allow it to be and I have been given a talent by God to be able to speak publicly and in blog entries about my history and about recovery. I have been given so many gifts, it’s like being paid back for all the pain and sorrow of the past.
Death? I’ve beat it several times. I’ve not only tried to kill this organism called me, but I’ve had cancer too. I’ve also had a major stroke and I live in a wheelchair. My brother is always telling me I will die young because of being in this chair but I’ve recently reminded him that totally healthy people drop dead every day from heart attacks or aneurysms. No one knows when they are going to die, and I have that stubborn hope that I will live long enough to realize my dream of earning my Doctorate and working for a space program.
My definition of what hope is to me? It isn’t the dreams I’ve had, it isn’t how I’ve felt or the things I’ve owned, hope is the catalyst for change that has kept me moving forward no matter how much emotional or physical pain I have been in. I’m going to compare it to the existence of life on our planet. Did you know that water is the perfect medium for most chemical reactions to take place? Without liquid water the processes that have formed life on our planet, the formation of complex molecules that make up DNA, RNA and many, many other vital complex structures cannot hold together. That is what hope is, a vital medium in which dreams can come alive and live even against insurmountable and overwhelming odds.Hope isn’t a magic word, hope is a bonding agent between where you are right in this moment and where you will be in the next. Without it, just like earth without liquid water, your life is barren and dead.
I decided to look up what the word hope means in the dictionary, and I was not surprised by what I found. “Hope is the expectation and desire for things to happen.” Duh, you might say but listen further. It also means, “having an aspiration, a wish, an ambition, to have aim and a design for one’s life.” Even when I lose sight of my future, which has happened to me in the past few weeks, I know those feelings as painful as they are, WILL pass and I’ll eventually bob to the surface again. I have aspirations, wishes, tons of ambition, and I just have to hold onto the HOPE that is deeply embedded inside me and has been since I was a small child. While I wait for my resolve to return the best thing I can do for myself and others is to be real. Yes, I get depressed and yes I lose my vision for my life. Sometimes I think of my age and the physical problems I have and I think, just give up and forget it all. Just put away your computer, crawl into bed and sleep forever. To be honest I do get into bed and hide from the world sometimes and you know what? That’s okay. Even the bravest warrior must rest sometime and regroup. I am only human and it’s okay to be that too. Hope doesn’t leave me when I feel down and depressed. It’s still there waiting for me to catch my breath and walk on. Death won’t catch me easily now. I’ll fight to live because there is so much to learn, so many people to meet, so many people who need to hear me say how I have come this far and that they can too. Even on my darkest days, hope still is somewhere in my psyche like a flame that refuses to die. I am not a super star or some kind of super human, I’m just someone who has already been to hell and is not afraid of what life can throw at me.
Hope, it is what holds us together even when we are falling apart.
“Hope is not a dream but a way of making dreams become realities.”– L. J. Suenens