And then, I read books like Bird by Bird where Anne Lamott says, "Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up." And I'm using the light from my phone to try to find the one pen that's rolling around on the floor of my car to underline the crap out of the quote. Then I carry the book with me and read the hope quote to at least 6 people that I see in the next couple days.
Or here's another thing. I got really happy about this new Bluetooth speaker that's waterproof and can go in the shower and the first album I decide to listen to on it is one where every lyric speaks to hope for the hopeless and light shining through darkness and beating unbeatable odds.
I can't hear someone sing "To Dream the Impossible Dream" from Man of LaMancha at a karaoke night in a cheesy voice complete with motions without becoming tearful and feeling like my heart is going to burst out of my chest.
So what do you do when you think you've got something down. When hope isn't something you struggle with because you're an optimist. Someone who usually has enough hope to fill buckets of it for other people and all of a sudden, every book you read, every song you sing, every billboard and tear and leaf and piece of chewing gum seems to say, "Hold on to hope! Keep showing up! Don't give up!"
Here's the rub. If I really dig in. If I really try to understand hope and define it. It's all about faith. It's all about believing in things I can't see. Knowing things I can't really know. Trusting that my desires and dreams and passions and purpose are worthy of reality, and not just that but I am worthy of a dreamy reality. And that is difficult for me. Because hope isn't just about dreaming. It's about strong and certain belief that the dream is inevitably going to become a reality. And frankly, that requires so much internal stability of me that sometimes I think if I were that stable I'd either break or not longer be free to bend.
I mean it's one thing to dream about prosperity. It's another to hope for it when I'm not quite sure we're going to make our mortgage payment this month. For me, usually a full-life sounds like a clean bedroom and aliveness sometimes means going to the bathroom for the entirety of a sit-down...by myself...without someone calling my name in desperate need of fruit snacks or an iPad charger. So it's no wonder that when I start hoping for something bigger (like a whole big part of the world that creates courageously and purposefully chooses aliveness) two lines from a critical email occupy 54% of my thoughts and make the whole thing sound ridiculous. (I am growing though that sort of email used to take up at least 92% of my brain space on a given day).
And now, now I start feeling desperate. Desperate for more an searching for beauty and driven to fight and bold enough to hope.
Isn't it interesting how we limit ourselves even by our strengths, even with our positive attributes? How we say that we can't be grateful or appreciative because things aren't right yet? How we say that we don't need hope because we're optimists? How we say we can't dream or cast vision because we're realists? Pick your poison. You know what I mean.
Maybe we're creative and complex and desperately in need of someone to say that, "You know what, my dear! I think it's just about time you give yourself a break and explore the beautiful brilliance that is you. Stop being afraid of what you'll find if you navigate your complexity with courage and hope."