1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
he looked through her belongings in the hope of coming across some information

2. archaic,
a feeling of trust.

Today, I tried to have a lighthearted conversation with my friend, Dictionary, and I think I may cry. My friend, you see, is quite the pragmatist and not much for mincing words beyond their initial dissection. It’s ironic that I should have this reaction to the treatment Dictionary gives language, and the thought that spurs I, because I’m rather sure I’ve played the heavy handed pragmatist myself time and again.

To be fair, Dictionary isn’t wrong, and the second definition for hope really is mostly archaic at this point. Still, there’s something tragic about trading in trust, to be replaced with desire.

Expectation is so comforting. One would think it the poetry of Peisinoe, and indeed it may be for it bears her bite as well. Expectation – usually the chariot of our fantasies, both nightmarish and dreamlike – paints our minds in too-bright colors, MSG laden caricatures, wrought like neon butterflies. Holidays cease to be an opportunity for sharing time with loved ones and become a prescribed exchange of gifts and places fraught with dead-falls of disappointment. Lovers cease to be deep, thrilling individuals whose presence makes our pulse thrum and become instead a vague shape, an unfinished sculpture we can try our hands at reshaping to match our fanciful image. Strangers and other new experiences, slip from their place as an unknown possibility into a presumed threat which begs us for preemptive strikes to preserve our now long absent peace of mind.

Consider for yourself – have you ever been given a gift, or received a visit, unexpectedly? Even in traditional settings, presents are wrapped, and surprise parties are a common concept for birthdays.

Free of expectation, our hopes sow seeds of possibility, giving us the chance to truly see and be seen by the world and our fellow travelers.

The above smacks a bit of a ‘soft focus’ definition doesn’t it? Perhaps it even carries some tones of utopian idealism as well. If so, it’s because I am not an individual well-acquainted with hope. The feverish, “please-god-let-me-win-the-jackpot,” quiet desperation of its primary definition is unsatisfying to me. In fact, I’ll go a step further and say outright that I find it detrimental as a pattern, like living on coffee or adrenaline as a baseline – both things I’ve done far too much of. In honesty, I must admit that the second has been my shield at times, sheltering me as it staves off the ravages of desolation or despair. It is far too easy to desire that feeling of trust so badly you start to invent it, rather than seeking out opportunities to foster its true, slow growth.

I understand why hope has been re-branded as the harbinger of expectation-born desires. The cultural trends are evident, and the personal motives folk might have are not only plain as day, they’re sympathetic, which is why I want to cry, because they’re also poison. A thirst of the psyche so primal, so compelling and necessary that we’ll quaff liters of saline just for a moment’s respite, dancing the path of a starving fisherman grown so gaunt we’ll sell our finishing pole for a single meal.

So what is hope? Let’s tear at the beating heart of it, see what bleeds. Hope is, at its inception, a drive to improve our environment. When we trust that our improvements will succeed, be those a new friend, a true lover, or a finished well for a thirsty village, we are buoyed up by our hope. Our well-placed trust will carry us, offering the strong foundation upon which to build new wonders, great and small. When we do not have true trust, that confident perseverance distorts into something desirous and desperate, our strong foundations a quicksand of doubts and demands.

I’ve spent a long time hopeless. Really, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Still, I have to admit that it’s not as good as I’ve, at times, made it out to be. Slowly, over the course of several years, and with the help of some dear friends, I’ve started to let hope back into my lexicon once more. I’ve begun to focus on that archaic definition and build hope, rather than cling to it. For those of us who want to improve our lot, and the lot of those around us, hopelessness has taught me a lesson: Between the spark that drives us to change and the first step towards our new shape, take a moment to be “hopeless,” view the world in an empty space, devoid of desire or judgement, see things – even the vastly overwhelming – free from expectation so that you are honest with yourself. Hold that cool clarity in your heart, then apply all the fire of that spark which drives you to change and reshape your world, let your conviction define your destination, not your path.

It is when we face our lives in the harsh light of dispassionate honesty, that we clearly see the truth in our hardships and situations, and it is the honest need to build a new and different truth which will push us to rise again and again until we find the solid path to our destinations, and which will afford us the chance to build a real trust in our outcomes, ourselves and our chosen companions.

Hope, the top shelf stuff, is knowing how bad it is, knowing we’re not going to quit, and knowing you’re not the only one. Accept no substitutes; you deserve no less.

About the Author: Justin Nafziger
Hello everyone. I’m much better at self-analysis than self description; besides, you’ll get an idea about my views in reading what I post. I’ve grown up traveling and in all the time I’ve spent seeing new places, people and things I’ve come to one clear conclusion; real meaningful moments and interactions don’t have to be permanent to be valuable, but they do have to be honest or they’ll be leached of meaning. Oh and that ethics (aka integrity in action) is a very personal proposition and cannot be successfully codified or dogmatized.

“There are as many truths as there are drops of water in the ocean and grains of sand on the beach.”

3 thoughts on “Hope?

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