I was always brought up that a person shouldn’t lose hope. Some people seem to almost consider it a crime to lose hope. But my experience seems to show otherwise. There are times when its good to lose hope or even to go through a hopeless period. Sometimes, its good to just ‘give up’, ‘throw in the towel’, or just become dejected.
Not losing hope goes with the principle that a person must maintain themselves, ‘stand upright’, and such. It implies a constancy in attitude. As a result, it implies a constancy of self. The problem is that the self is not a single unity. Our conscious self is only the tip of an iceberg of a larger self that remains hidden and only shows itself at certain times (such as in dreams, intuition, an insightful thought, etc.). When we hold a constancy we hold a constancy in relation to our conscious self . . . but that’s only part of our self. What about all that remains hidden?
Losing hope, I’ve found, is a giving up of this constancy of the conscious self. By doing this, it oftentimes open up the door to the hidden self. Many times this hidden self can reveal a strength and a hope I never thought I had (as the conscious self does not know of it). How many times have I been stunned by this? Many, many times, for sure.
There are times when a greater hope is revealed from the hidden self. A stronger, better, more mature, and deeper hope. In fact, I’d say that’s where I really learned about hope. There are grades of hope like everything else. What you may think is hope now may actually be shallow in comparison to a grade of hope that lies deep within. I used to always say: ‘hope is discovery’. What this means is that a person discovers hope. You don’t learn it, nor are you taught it. A person must find it from experience. And you don’t discover it by holding constant.
But, as I said above, a person consists of a conscious self with a hidden self. A person, then, consists of both of these selfs. There are times when we outgrow our conscious self. Growth, really, is nothing but a continual change of selfs, like a snake shedding off skin. With this growth we must discover a new self, a self that rests within. With this new self is a new reality . . . along with a new form of hope. And so, to be a person means a continual interplay of these two selves.
Hope, to me, is not a stance or a position a person takes. The stance usually taken is that a person must ‘maintain hope’. It’s almost like saying ‘you must behave this or that way’. Regardless of what happens you must always feel this emotion and act this way. But, to me, hope is more like an attitude, a way of being. Perhaps it can be called a ‘hopeful way of being’. Just like everything else in life this way of being is fluid. It changes. The grade or type of hope that I feel this week may not be good next week. A person must continually discover what the new grade of hope must be, as it continually fluctuates.
This requires a person, though, to as if walk on the edge of a razor blade. Discovering hope often requires you to fall. This can be painful. Often, its the pain that as if brings out this new hope from our hidden self. In other words, without occasional pain, many forms of hope cannot be brought out. They lie hidden, dormant, and stagant within us. What this means is that discovering hope is a result of wavering between hope and hopelessness. I tend to feel that the wavering between the two creates a deeper form of hope. That is to say, if one only ‘maintains hope’ then only a shallow hope is experienced. Just the experience and act of wavering between hope and hopelessness creates a great depth. In some ways, it creates a new dimension in hope.
But what is hope anyways? To me, hope is a condition where one stands as a living human being in the face of life. It’s like saying, “life, here I am, and I want to live”. It seems to have these qualities:
– The recognition of life. A person must as if say, “there is life” as a reality. It must be there, something tangible, something real, something alive.
– The recognition of self. A person must feel and know of themselves. They must feel who they are, know who they are, and experience who they are.
– The desire to live. A person must see themselves in the midst of life and wanting to live.
The combination of all these qualities creates a condition of a living creature ready and wanting to embrace life. There, really, is the basic essence of hope I think. Hope is a wanting to live as a person in the midst of life. A good healthy hope, I think, is a needing to live as a person in the midst of life.
Now, I’m not saying that a person should just ‘lose hope’ all the time. We must ‘maintain’ ourselves as much as we can. In general, it’s good to keep an attitude of maintaining oneself according to the principles one believes in. The bulk of life is really nothing but a maintaining of oneself according to ones beliefs and conceptions. But there are times when it fails, no matter what we do. Oftentimes, these failures hide a great strength that is about to be discovered. Some of these failures may be caused by:
– The situation creates a hopelessness. Often, we are victims of situations or just get swept up in things beyond our control.
– The situation doesn’t allow for ‘maintaining onself’ any more. Generally, this means that the situation doesn’t allow for the way we have been maintaining ourselves. What we’ve been doing just doesn’t work anymore.
– We are just overwhelmed by things, emotions, events, etc. Things are ‘too much to handle’.
– Sometimes, things just happen. A person just ‘fails’ or loses hope and thats it. There’s no apparent reason or purpose for it.
Many of the situations the above creates can, in actuality, bring great hope and strength, though it may not seem like it at first. Sometimes, these situations can make it seem like the world is going to end.
Struggling through the hopelessness, falls, and failures it seems like there is a ‘force’ or ‘movement’ or ‘passion’ that keeps a person going. It seems formless, thoughtless, emotionless, just ‘there’. This ‘passion’ is always there and keeps us living. Everything is as if built upon it, all our beliefs, conceptions, ideas, etc. Like a foundation of a building, though, it is as if covered by all this stuff. It’s for this reason I feel its good to try to experience the ‘passion’ of hope and not to define it or set it to some concept. The ‘passion’ of hope is something to be experienced. That’s its power, not in making it fit some concept or principle.
Do you not feel it? . . . the ‘passion’ that makes you want to live. Do you not feel it pushing you? Do you not see how you look out into life . . . searching . . . for what? . . . What do you think: Life. Do you not feel that ‘passion’? It is there, motivating everything we do. This is the ‘passion’ of hope. From this ‘passion’ hope springs. From our conscious self to the depths of our hidden self it is there coursing through our whole being like blood in our body. But each part of our self uses it differently and has a different way it uses this ‘passion’. There is no one single way that our self embraces it. And so this ‘passion’, this hope, and our self, changes and continually changes form endlessly, like the trees growing leaves in spring, losing them in fall, and growing them back again, year after year.