I snapped this photo on my walk a few weeks back. I walked past it at first then did a double take and walked back to re-read what I thought I read the first time.
Are you down there, Hope?
Something I’ve been since childhood is hopeful. My mother would comment on how quickly I bounced back and how ever-hopeful I was no matter what was happening around us as she shook her head at me in amazement. I mean, I had my own cheerleading outfit for God’s sake! I wore the blue and yellow outfit I got from Sears around the house complete with matching pompoms, as I cheered room to room, encouraging myself and driving my mother crazy. Hahaha! Or should I say Rah! Rah! Rah! I was born an optimist!
But, it’s taken decades to realize that having hope isn’t always a good thing and being naively optimistic isn’t always the best use of our energy. I can’t believe I’m going to say this in black and white, and typing this out ‘almost’ makes me feel apathetic — like I’m somehow giving up, but… having hope in a hopeless situations can make us sick, stuck, depressed, anxiety-ridden, attached, trapped in bad relationships and friendships, and not living our life to the fullest. Ironic huh? Let go of hope, find a life. Weird? It’s like we have to lower our standards just to get by in life sometimes, ya know?
This is an excerpt from my childhood memoir Steel Town Girl:
“I looked out the window at the trees quickly passing by and knew that’s what my life felt like. I smiled a bit at the thought of a new life, a good one this time. But I secretly hated that I could so easily be talked into hope. I hated hope. It wasn’t the thing with wings that perched itself in your soul. It was the thing with horns that clawed your guts out as it laughed in your face for being stupid enough to be hopeful in the first place. And I felt much too old for this. I didn’t have much life left in me. I was worn out.”
I was 14 years old in that scene and I felt eighty.
I didn’t hate hope. I loved it. I hated the feelings of frustration, sadness, loss, and pain I felt in my heart I was left with when hopeful situations turned hopeless, which was more times than I could count.
At my age now, I have to conserve my energy for other things in situations that won’t change. I’m learning to discern what situations are hopeful and I’m realizing that in order to save myself, I must let go of hope in some situations. I can no longer easily get talked into hope. That doesn’t make me feel hopeless, it makes me feel more self-aware and much smarter than I was before. I’m still here and I’m still learning everyday.
I will still encourage myself and will continue to be my own cheerleader regardless of what’s going on around me. Even when I get really down, I will eventually get back up. After all, I have lots of things I still want to do with my life. And I can’t do any of them when I’m searching storm drains for hope.
I got up close and personal with my camera just to be sure Hope wasn’t hiding from me.
Hope didn’t answer.
Well, at least there’s no red balloon down there, I thought as I walked away.
I had to giggle.
I think giggling is full of hope. Don’t you?