Only hope

It is only hope. Just a tiny light in suffocating, closed spaces. Yet it revives forlorn hearts.

Hope isn’t optimism. It isn’t positive thinking either. I can say this with conviction for I have felt all three at different times. I am sure you have, too. These two — optimism and positive thinking — are baseless without the connivance of your mind. Logic and motivation add on the necessary ingredients, and lo, you feel optimistic or positive. Hope is something else. It sprouts from within the heart, grows and dissolves there. I suspect this is precisely why it is so lovable an emotion. So wholesome, that it can provide succor to wilting worlds forever and more. The fact that it is not usually based on logic makes its mystique so much more endearing, an average person holds on to it with dear life. It could take you anywhere.

A friend is struggling to retain sanity amongst chaos her circumstances have created for her. Her family, especially her mother — the one person any child, whatever the age, will want to go to in distress — has proven to be the single most problematic factor in her life. I watch with amazement her fierce loyalty to them, the incessant crushing of her feelings over and over again, and her indefatigable hope. She falls every day, hopes for a better understanding from them, gets up, brushes off the dust, and carries on. It makes my heart ache for her. But when I step back, I realise she is teaching me the kind of lesson that comes by unasked for in the course of our lives, and proves to be one of the most essential ones. With her simple heart, she reminds me that all there is to a being is dynamic activity, a will to carry on. Perhaps the crux to nurturing such a will is a hopeful heart. It works wonders, that’s certain.

Will the chime ring, or will the fog muffle the call?

Think of the time when nothing seemed adequate to help remove the mists of your mind. No path seemed appropriate, no step safe. It was terrifying, was it not? If I am being presumptuous, it’s probably because I’ve seen too many mists to miss the fact that the lack of vision can be disconcerting in the least. And definitely very frightening if you’re really interested in the outcome. This terror, then, how does it go? Does the mist clear on its own? What warms the heart, feeds the mind with health to invigorate the body enough to walk out of it? Hope. As as it survives, it succeeds. It revives forlorn hearts.

This power is precisely what attracts the hopeful to sometimes make the mistake of clinging on to misleading signs, and makes the skeptic take it as a cue to walk a different path.

Though false hope is disastrous, it is even more disastrous to incorrectly classify a hope as such. Mind applies logic. Heart appraises signs. Together, they abandon enthusiasm at the slightest hint of a failure. Result? Unexplored opportunities.

I have no example to give from my life where I can show you how I lost opportunities because I failed to see a tiny flicker of light somewhere. I have, however, plenty of experiences to cite in which I hoped, was stymied, but the light kept burning. And I kept walking, exploring. It might seem a waste of time, but it’s kept my heart beating stout and strong.

Many lives in this world plod along without the little orbs to delight them. Many see them as will-o’-the-wisps ready to guide them to graver quagmires. Still more allow hope to dwell in the realm of fantasy and delusion. And yet, a large number of people join hands with hope and walk with the confidence only the brave can.

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65 thoughts on “Only hope”

  1. Priya, this post spoke directly to my soul this morning. There is so much here to comment on, where do I begin–?

    “This terror, then, how does it go? Does the mist clear on its own? What warms the heart, feeds the mind with health to invigorate the body enough to walk out of it? Hope. As as it survives, it succeeds. It revives forlorn hearts.”

    It is so terrifying, to walk headfirst into some unknown. I was just discussing this with my husband last week. I feel like I am on the edge of a cliff and about to jump willingly into the darkness, not knowing who will catch me or if I will be caught safely. It’s this frightening leap, this holding of my breath and having the faith and hope I will be okay, even while free-falling. To me, this is what life is all about. Hope is the drive behind everything.

    “Though false hope is disastrous, it is even more disastrous to incorrectly classify a hope as such. Mind applies logic. Heart appraises signs. Together, they abandon enthusiasm at the slightest hint of a failure. Result? Unexplored opportunities”–This is something I will need to think more on for sure. It’s struck a chord with me, I’ll say that!

    I hope this made some sense to you (not enough coffee yet…) This is a post I will have to come back to again and reread it. Such powerful stuff here.

    And I hope your light is always burning strong enough to encourage your bravery!

    1. Darla, it makes perfect sense. With or without coffee.

      Hope, I’ve noticed, is far more potent in making you want to do more. To get up and get going. Even if Jillian Michaels’ remedy is butt breaking. That’s an interesting experience there! 🙂

      1. What both you & Daria said, I do feel. Hope is indeed potent in making you want to do more. Potent is exactly word, too. Great article.

        1. Noeleen, I just visited your blog and read your About page. All I can say is that I am not surprised that words fall from your eyes. And that you know just how potent hope can be. I feel honoured that you took time, read my post and left a message here. Thank you.

  2. Hope, of all the attributes a person can possess, is the most important, the most life-giving. To carry it with you always is difficult, but if you can, it has an energy all of its own. To give it to another human is the most treasured gift I can imagine. In my darkest days, I can remember losing a fragile hold on it for just a moment, but I remember reaching out for it and holding it close. Sometimes it’s all you have. Wonderfully, beautifully written post, Priya.

    1. “To give it to another human…” Why, Jean, I neglected to think of one of its most essential attributes. Of course, it is the most treasured gift anyone can give, and receive. Thank you for pointing that out, and warming my heart simply with the thought of it!

  3. I love your wind chimes. One never knows when the slightest breeze will stir a bell and bring its surprising, unexpected sound. It may ring when you least expect it. Yet the wind chime remains hanging– solid, made of metal, ready to ring.

    1. That’s how things are, aren’t they, Georgette? All the while you’re presuming that what you see around you is the only possible reality, the only possible activity, and yet, all of a sudden, an unexpected turn of events puts you on a completely new track! Ah, the pleasures of hidden breezes and such!

  4. I love this paragraph: “Though false hope is disastrous, it is even more disastrous to incorrectly classify a hope as such. Mind applies logic. Heart appraises signs. Together, they abandon enthusiasm at the slightest hint of a failure. Result? Unexplored opportunities.”

    I hate to think I might have missed opportunities in this amazingly brief lifetime simply from a fear of false hope.

    “Many lives in this world plod along without the little orbs to delight them.” How true and how tragic this is. I see evidence of this every day and find it heartbreaking.

    1. It is indeed heartbreaking to see people without hope. Also, the ones who simply don’t have the heart to venture out of their comfort zones to tread on hopeful, but ‘absurd’ paths make me sad, too. Perhaps we should start an Occupy Hope campaign!

      We all hesitate in exploring opportunities, Linda. The trick is to not make a habit of it! No?

  5. Another heart-wrenchingly beautiful post, Priya. I’ve had darker days than I could ever share with you — and the one thing that keeps me going is hope. Thank you for giving it a new home in my heart, with this description, “sprouts from within the heart, grows and dissolves there.” Your words are like breathing. Up and down. In and out. Constant, if we’re lucky.

    1. “Your words are like breathing. Up and down. In and out.” I could hug you for this. Thank you.

      The fact that you are here, bravely wading the ever-surprising waters of time, shows that hope must play an important role in your life. No one can hope to be as embracing as you are, if they don’t let hope guide their actions, Melissa.

  6. A really beautiful post. Unfortunately, in my youth I have experienced what it feels to hold false hope and how it feels when your hopes get dashed away. It is a bitter experience, to say the least. Perhaps one of the worst I have felt in my life.

    1. It must’ve been difficult, Mahfooz. And it probably continues to be difficult. I hope the experience hasn’t stopped you from having faith.

      Thank you for your visit, and your time.

    1. Worry Warts, your posts are good indications of just how much you’ve achieved with hope. So this message from you is especially delightful for me. Thank you.

  7. I like your distinction between optimism and hope: one is a result of conscious thought and the other of a feeling heart. I’d never thought of it that way before. And this: “Hope. As as it survives, it succeeds.” You’re right! Hope feeds itself, somehow. Beautifully written, Priya. May you have at least the faintest appreciation of your own gifts — that’s my hope.

    1. “May you have at least the faintest appreciation of your own gifts” I join you in wishing that, Charles. That’ll be a big leap!

  8. “Hope isn’t optimism. It isn’t positive thinking either… It sprouts from within the heart… revives forlorn hearts…”
    Beautiful. Just beautiful. How do you do it every time?

    One of my mother’s famous expressions was, “Is there any hope?” My Mr F worked as a free-lancer for over 25 years and every time he was between jobs, my mom would ask me – without fail – “Is there any hope?” I’d get aggravated and shout at her (I’m ashamed to say I did) I wish I’d been given this to read.

    1. Our past reactions come back in funny ways to dwell in our minds, Rosie. Perhaps the idea is to help us see how far we’ve come in making ourselves better. The fact that you feel the way you feel about the incident(s) you mentioned shows that you are walking with firmer footsteps. What else does one want?!

      1. “You’re walking with firmer footsteps!”
        oh gosh that’s it Priya! Thank you. I somehow get the feeling that my Mom knows that too…

        I’m glad I came back. After reading your post I was so moved by what you said that I forgot to click the like button. Goodness gracious, but anyway better late than never no? I was glad to see how many bloggers also liked it 😀

  9. Hope is a “lovable emotion.” I think this might be because it is both powerful and personal. And maybe even moreso because it is quiet. Hope rarely comes rushing in like a bull in a china shop. More often it is the subtle, still strength that gets us through. Hope never disrupts our lives, it holds them together. May you always know hope.

    1. …it is quiet. That’s a beautiful description. It just wafts in like an airy, magical being. No?

      I wish you the same in your life and work, Kevin. Thank you.

  10. Few minutes earlier, i gave my comment on someone’s post; which was, “Life is a collection of both good and bad experiences, still things like, hope & dream make this journey a beautiful one”. Believe me i did n’t knew that, after that post, i would read this one.
    I am not that intelligent to give my comment on this wonderful post of yours, so what i can say is, “Thank you for this post”.

    “Though false hope is disastrous, it is even more disastrous to incorrectly classify a hope as such. Mind applies logic. Heart appraises signs. Together, they abandon enthusiasm at the slightest hint of a failure. Result? Unexplored opportunities.” – This part is simply brilliant. Lots more part were also worth mentioning, But i do not want to take much space of the comment section.
    It was a wonderful read Priya. 🙂

    1. TO wish you all the best for the coming year and to thank you for giving all of us, posts like this one to read, i passed on an award called “Candle Lighter Award” to your blog.

      1. You are wise, I’ll never tire telling you that, Arindam. The comment you mentioned is a concept, a belief that few are able to focus on during tough times. If they do, like I think you do, focus on it, things would be so much more bearable!

        Thank you for the award, Arindam. I hope to be able to justify it someday.

  11. I’ve read this twice and can’t really put into words what I feel about it, so I am simply saying this: I clicked the ‘Like’ button. One day, maybe there will be an ‘Eloquent writing’ button, too. Thanks Priya.

    1. Thank you, Val. I have much to learn. Reading the writing of so many bloggers here reminds me that eloquence is hardly the virtue I can claim just yet. You are one of those bloggers.

    1. That’s more than enough, Saara. You give hope to people like us with your young and fresh fire and enthusiasm. So, this message means a lot.

  12. Thanks for the lovely and inspiring post Priya. You have seen and felt so much already, it takes years of turbulence for people to understand what hope really is. We sometimes take this treasure for granted however hope is the safest asset nevertheless. I can only hope that all of us stick to our hopes and don’t give in just as hope prepares to turn into a hopeful reality 🙂

    1. Thank you. You read more than I write, Asinine Tosh (and your name makes my head swim with endless chuckles).

      That’s an interesting observation, indeed. Though many do hope, they give up for want of any more energy or faith to go on. Do you think that’s because they’ve lost hope? Or is it because even though they still hope, they have no faith left in it anymore?

  13. Priya, it would be an understatement to say that your words connect with me.. and how..!

    You couldn’t be more right.. hope could really take one anywhere. It has, at times, lifted me out of depths of despair and at other times, brought me crashing back to reality.. when it disappeared. Is it a fleeting feeling? Can one hold onto it? Is there something one can do for ‘hope’ to survive?

    Your friend is a strong woman. I wish I had more strength alongwith hope to feed my mind and warm my heart. You couldn’t have said it better. Oh, but you probably will.. in the posts to come 🙂 ..wishing you a blessed new year.

    (P.S. – I will have to start allocating separate time to read through your comments section, just like I do for Charles.. Oh well, alright.)

    1. Hope is how you make it — fleeting, sturdy and sustainable, foolish, realistic, heart-breaking, heart-warming.

      My father has never ceased to tell me the importance of will. After years of trial and failure and success, I agree with him. It can make you do things you never thought possible. In dire situations, however, you have to settle for doing things you don’t really enjoy. But if you choose carefully, let hope and faith and will guide you, you will emerge triumphant from the woods. No one can stop you, not even yourself.

      May you find love, faith and peace this year, AIT.

      And by all means, allocate time! 😉

  14. Beautiful post. Hope is what gets me going every day. It gives me the faith to believe that things will eventually work out for the best — even when at times it doesn’t seem possible.

    1. It is a beautiful emotion, is it not? Even when at times it doesn’t seem possible, it makes you feel there’s still a chance.

      Welcome back, Emily. I am happy to see you here again.

  15. beautifully written priya and i hope 2012 will find me reading more of your thoughts..they always delight,psenlighten and force me to stop and think..

    here’s wishing you a brilliant 2012…

    ps..thanx for the compliments for sheetal and kiran…sheetal was begging outside a mall in pune…and kiran sold me flowers at a traffic light in andheri..i feel so blessed to have been able to capture the beauty of these girls…i hope 2012 brings both these girls happiness…

  16. Priya, this is a beautiful post with beautiful imagery as well.

    What you term ‘hope,’ I think of as having ‘heart.’ In French, heart is coeur – and of course the English word ‘courage’ derives from that French word. I wonder if one can train the mind on hope with success? Your post has me thinking about this. It would seem to me at first take to be difficult without adequate ‘heart.’

    I love playing with words. I discover hope itself does not have precise etymological origins. The closest genesis is ‘hop’ – or ‘leaping in expectation.’

    Hmmmmmmmm ……… 😉

    1. I agree, Bela, that it would be difficult to train the mind on hope without adequate heart, for heart is where hope takes birth, grows and spreads its wings. To quote from this post — Hope is something else. It sprouts from within the heart, grows and dissolves there.

      Do you think, though, that mind would be able to handle the vagueness of it? Hope, however strong it may be, is usually based on the rather indefinable aspects of cognition, it appears. But if it can be done, there could be a revolution in the fields of courage and motivation!

      Inspired by you, I checked on the etymology of the word hope and found this —

      http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/hope#Etymology_1

      Looks like Ancient and Middle English have some hope after all!

  17. Priya, I’m not surprised at the response your post has received. This is a fabulous piece of soul. So well done…please give yourself a pat on the back for me.

    I once said to a man who had been a Monk – “I don’t want to live in hope. I want to live.” He nearly had a fit. I don’t think he understood and I never had a chance to finish our conversation. He thought I was pooh-poohing hope which was not the case. At times one can feel that hope is the only comfort available. I simply meant I would prefer to not have to live with that much deficit.

    When “false hope” comes up, I remember how often I get myself into trouble over expectations. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference. When I anticipate another person doing something, am I hoping they will or expecting them to? I do know that expectations have an inverse relationship with peace!

    Thank you for a great read and message.

    1. “I don’t want to live in hope. I want to live.”
      At times one can feel that hope is the only comfort available. I simply meant I would prefer to not have to live with that much deficit.
      When “false hope” comes up, I remember how often I get myself into trouble over expectations. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference. When I anticipate another person doing something, am I hoping they will or expecting them to?

      Thank you Amy for saying this in such simple words.. these are some of the things I have been struggling to say these past few months. Can I do a ‘shom’ to you (kind of like a deep bow) to express how I felt the instant I read your comment?

      ( And thank goodness, I often check the ‘Comments I’ve Made’ section on my dashboard, otherwise I would miss gems such as these! )

    2. The word deficit has been ringing in my ears, Amy. What is missing, then, when hope seems to be the only comfort? Will? Drive? Strength? Motivation?

      I am not very good with expectations. It is an ever-growing vine that strangles me the moment I come close to it. It is exasperating, confusing. Which is why I don’t really know the difference between hoping and expecting. I suppose they should make things clearer in the dictionary now. High time!

      I am patting my back, Amy. And it’s all thanks to people like you who’ve encouraged me beyond what I think I deserve. It should be humbling, but like a devil, I see my pride bloating beyond recognition.

  18. Beautiful and thought-provoking – this piece. It sprouts from within the heart, grows and dissolves there. Brilliantly said.

    May I ask then, is bravery a closer synonym to hope (as opposed to optimism and positive thinking)?

    I hope you don’t mind, but is this a typo? – As as it survives, it succeeds.

    1. Ha! Bravery could indeed be closer, if there was seemingly no other option. If there was a ‘deficit’ (as Amy so insightfully puts it) of options. Then it would just be about you and your staunch heart (refer to Bela’s comment).

      I don’t mind at all about you pointing this out — As it survives, it succeeds. It was meant to be this way, Nel. I believe what I wanted to say here was that after all of the trials hope goes through, and yet survives them all, it accomplishes its task — that of giving hope even in the most dire of circumstances. Would you suggest a more succinct way to put it so that my version doesn’t confuse?

      Gosh, I love these interactions!

      1. I was actually wondering why there were two “as”-s (Sounds like asses doesn’t it? But you know what I mean. ;])

        You’ve put it quite succinctly, Priya. I like this piece. It makes me think about my definition of hope. I found that I am more of a positive-thinker – an optimist, my best friend says. And I agree that optimism is more cerebral. Hope, on the other hand, is more of or from the heart.

  19. All there is to a being is dynamic activity…a will to carry on…the crux to nurturing such a will is a hopeful heart!  Beautifully put Priya…a heartfelt post…

    I do believe that deep down, hope is also a prayer of trust in a higher power…Hope is a positive strength that is often not given the importance it has in the realization of lives…thank you for a beautiful read…

    My prayer for you for the New Year is love, joy, faith and hope…

    1. A prayer of trust in a higher power. Hmm. I have to say I agree with you.

      My mother has instilled this faith in a higher power in me. I quite like the concept, especially if it enriches and strengthens, if it provides the ever-elusive intellectual and emotional standards that have evolved over time. It is such an intricate web, and yet so simple. And so easy to view, if we break down our thoughts and look at all the things this higher power controls. And how.

      But then, I am getting carried away with my thought processes. Sorry!

      Have beautiful year full of hope, Shama!

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