I hope that I am going to have a full and productive and happy life, but I am also in the process of living it, right now. I’ve just wasted a nanosecond thinking about it, that’s all, instead of just getting on with it. The hoping is the emotional mapping of my preferred future, whether it be the next second, the rest of my life, or all my possible futures based on the choices I make now on.
This is fairly ordinary Hope, not the grand heroic type, but in what ways can we develop a practical and positive concept of it when we are in direct opposition to or in conflict with those challenges and difficulties that undermine us?
Everything will be OK.
It’s banal. It’s a cliché. It’s usually said to us earnestly and with not inconsiderable feeling by loving friends, colleagues, and family members. It’s often accompanied with a pat on the back or a hug. They mean well, and are trying to lend support, cheer us up, or reassure us. Whether we’re nuts or not. That brief moment of commiseration and shared empathy may reduce us to tears of gratitude, or it may piss us off enormously. It often provokes a disconsolate self-pitying wail of “No it won’t.” We’re inviting them to try harder – to convince us – because not only is (insert misfortune here), but the whole world is going to end, too. We’re in pain, we recognise it as such, and we need some genuine emotional relief or assurance that we cannot immediately find within ourselves.
It is a characteristic of pain, especially of the emotional kind, that it often consumes our ability to think clearly, or to imagine that it will ever end. Pain turns all of us into terrible, pathetic creatures, and yet a genuine tender comfort is often the only glimpse we need that it might just be possible to live through it. The person consoling us may not actually give a damn, but we can still choose to grab and hold on to it for dear life in any case.
The quality we need to find within ourselves, though, is hope. And the willingness.