Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. – Vaclav Havel
I love this quote about hope. Hope does not always mean being cheery or positive. Hope is the certainty that the moments that happen make sense, even if we might wish the moments had occurred differently.
Recently I was listening to a podcast from March 2020 between Brené Brown and David Kessler, author of “Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief”. During the dialogue David shared a deeply personal story about the death of his youngest son. David, a leading grief expert who, for forty years, had counseled parents who experienced the death of a child, talked about one of the first things he wanted to do in the early stages of his grief. He wanted to write a note to each parent he had counseled and say I had no idea how great your pain was.
As the podcast continued, David shared about his journey in writing his book about the sixth stage of grief. Meaning. The meaning is not in the death; the meaning is what we do after. The meaning is in us. That’s where the meaning lies…Give name to the moments as meaningful. Our control is to give meaning, to create meaning, to the moments.
I felt a kinship with David as he talked about how grief is not always equal to death in the physical sense. Grief happens when there has been a death of something. I am reminded of words I had written in my first book before Hope Has a Cold Nose.
There are certain things that are Universal no matter the language, the culture, or where you live. Loss and the grieving process share a commonality: in pain and in promise. Loss doesn’t have to be death in the sense of a loved one—two legged or four. Loss is being separated from the safe haven you knew. Marriage, friendship, a job, your home: whatever you loved, needed, or associated with as part of your identity is now absent from your life. – To the Moon and Back to Me: What I Learned from Four Running Feet
In pain. In promise.
In the hope that through the pain will be the ability to give meaning to that pain.
That something will make sense from it.
Not the same as optimistic.
Someone who recently shared her extraordinary story with me said of the twenty-third story in HHCN how that “one more” after my original intent of writing twenty-two stories was hope. For with hope there is always “one more”. One more moment, one more day, one more step.
I embarked on what would become one of the best journeys of my life when I began writing HHCN. I had the sacred privilege of writing about how twenty-three extraordinary individuals found hope with the aid of unconditionally listening and loving souls who have paws, fur, and cold noses. Hope is the healing power of canines. And hope is
“One more” breath, one more step, one more day each of the twenty-three co-authors took until they were paired with their service dog.
Hope is always
What is hope to you?
If I gave you one word to describe your perspective about hope, what would be that one word?
Or if I asked you to describe hope in one sentence?
I think about what Ginger and Kutana would say, for you know how they are always a part of the HHCN monthly updates (smile). I think Ginger would say in one sentence hope is that mom will do some of her writing work in our double seated green chair, then I can curl up right next to her. Kutana would say in one word hope is treat. Kutana, the foodie, is always hopeful for the next chance for a treat. (smile). Her quest is to watch for any movement towards the treat jar or a hand moving to a pocket, for a hand reaching into a pocket magically makes treats appear.
Merriam-Webster defines quest as “a journey made in search of something.” I like the definition I googled defined by vocabulary.com. “A quest is all about seeking something important and it often involves a journey. You could travel the world in a quest for gold. You would not travel to the lunchroom in a quest for tater tots”.
Okay, so maybe Kutana is not on a quest for treats, though she might tell you otherwise. She is certain treats are a very important essential part of life.
Joking aside, why do I quote the definition of a quest? Because I’m about to embark on one in 2022. I am in search of what hope means to others. Through research, through seeking and listening to life stories, through observation, and through reflection, I seek to understand what
Through the eyes of the world.
I think of one of my favorite TEDx talks by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie titled “The Danger of a Single Story”. As she says in her talk, the single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.
I think that I’ve not been completely walking my own talk, instead choosing to “see” through the social platforms and people’s comments to me that the world is becoming more hopeless. And frustrated. And anxious. And grief-stricken. All the words I gravitate my listening to because I long to inspire not giving up. Yet, then I encounter a stranger in a store, and we share our mutual perspectives about choosing happiness every day. Or another stranger in which we talk about how his uncle taught him that there is no such thing as a bad cup of coffee; only that some cups are better than others. We then both smiled as we said that’s a lot like every day. There is no bad day, just some days better than others.
There are voices not yet heard, stories not yet shared, and my quest is to go and find them and report back to you what hope is. How is it said? I think it was Gandhi who said be the change you wish to see. If I wish to advocate for unconditional listening and I wish to inspire hope, shouldn’t I stop listening conditionally to what I think I’m hearing? Shouldn’t I start going directly to the heart of what hope is, through the lens of those choosing how to live hopefully, even when it might seem like hopeless is in the lead?
If I reflect, I could argue I began this quest when I started writing HHCN. I went to the heart of pain, trauma, sorrow, and despair and I found what hope was to twenty-three wonderful co-authors. It is time to take this quest to new levels.
I hope you join me on this quest. You don’t have to conduct interviews if you had a moment’s concern what it might mean to join me on this quest. (smile) You’re welcome to be the interviewed, but that’s not required either. I hope you join by continuing to subscribe and receive the routine email communications. If you find at least one sentence that inspires you, I hope you then share it with someone else. (That’s how hope spreads by sharing.) Maybe you will also join the quest by sending me an email with an idea of who to talk with for a future blog. I also welcome email dialogue engaging in discussion about what hope is. However, you are moved to take part, what I wish for most of all is that I get to share the experiences of this quest with you.
He who completes a quest does not merely find something. He becomes something. Lev Grossman
May 2022 bring you abundant tranquility, joy, wellness, and
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