Humans are born with a natural tendency to hope. As children, we hope for ice cream or a puppy or one more story at bedtime. As teens, we hope for opportunities for jobs, freedom, education, love. As we grow, we experience loss. And hope ebbs a bit. The more losses, the deeper the losses, and it can become hard for hope to work its magic…to lift our spirits.
Myself, I recognize that I can be too much of a realist. When I search my memory, I recall my 20s when I worked long hours for little pay, was exhausted most of the time, and hoped for life to get easier. I dreamed of someday opening a Bed & Breakfast where I would be my own boss and cook on weekends for happy strangers. That dream never materialized yet the hope of it gave me such joy. I remember that of all the people I told about my B&B dream, no one dismissed it. Perhaps they knew that to do so would be to trample on my joy. Truly, isn’t joy the most important by-product of hope?
There have been times when I wondered why my mother kept practically all her pain hidden from my eyes. I now know why. She recognized the importance of hope. In the face of hardship, hope is sometimes all we have. We all have a "realist" inside us, a voice that whispers, "Maybe you shouldn't even try." What's harder to ignore are the realists around us who do more than whisper. They give us endless examples of why we should play it safe. In those moments, we must ask, "Is that what life is about? Playing it safe?"
My mother gave me the gift of hope by not trotting out the hardships of her life. She kept them hidden from me for a reason. So that I could meet the world on my own terms. And yes, I have found heartache. But always, I cling to hope.