What does hope look like for me now?By Emma Pearson
September 22, 2023
Stunning photo (*) by precious widbud Charlotte MacNaughton, near Yellowknife, Canada’s Northwest Territories (January 2023)
26 January 2023
Way back when, back in my life before, and soon after I had started up my business, Kaleidoscope Development, I wrote a blogpost on “Hope”. It was 21st April 2014. I actually called it, “Hope – Part One”, and a week later, wrote a follow-up piece, imaginatively called, “Hope – Part Two”.
As I re-read the pieces, I like what I wrote, nearly 9 years ago. I’d change a word here and there, but fundamentally, the ideas feel coherent, and still relevant.
Most of my writing these past almost six years has gone on to my Widowing Empty Nests blog. My writing has been predominantly personally-focused – my lived experience of living with losses – though I believe that even my professionally-focused writing has always been holistic, about the whole person.
I want to reinvigorate my Kaleidoscope Development blog (soon!), and ideas are bubbling up already. That writing needs to have a wider lens than “Grief and Loss”, but since the notion of “Hope” comes into both my Grief writing and my professional writing, I wonder if “Hope” might be a connective force.
I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts today while out walking my dog – Megan Devine’s “Here After”. Her focus is “conversations with interesting people about difficult things”. Right up my alley. In her current Season Two, she ends each conversation with the question, “Knowing what you know, and living what you’ve lived, what does hope look like for you now?”
I LOVE that question. I love it so much that I want to ponder it for myself. I have written a lot about hope – what I think it is, what gives me hope, what builds my hope, what drains it. I have written about definitions of hope that I don’t like, or that I feel are too … vapid. And I have written about definitions of hope that I do like.
But I haven’t reflected on this specific question – “Given all of what you’ve been asked to carry, what does hope look like for you now?”
Hope for me is (still) an energy, a pulse, a life force, a superpower (that can nevertheless wax & wane).
Hope for me is (still) a skill, a muscle, to practise, and practise, and practise – but now I would add, with “eyes, head, heart and soul wide open”.
Hope for me is (still) a deeply held conviction that people are fundamentally good, well-intentioned, socially motivated, growth-oriented, and capable of acting in the interests of the common good.
In my personal life, given what I know, and living what I have lived, hope drives my faith, my belief, that life, my life, is worth living, despite it all. Not because things will get better, ease up, resolve themselves. But because life is a precious gift that I have been given to hold (to carry, to nurture) for however long I can do so with love, will, curiosity, interest and energy.
I have always loved George Bernard Shaw’s quote – “Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations”. Back in the days of iPods, I had the first six words engraved on the back of one. It was a comforting mantra, a guide for living consciously. Awake.
I no longer subscribe to each and every one of GBS’s words… I don’t feel a compulsion to make the torch burn brightly, for example. But I do subscribe to wanting to live well and fully; doing my bit to make better what I can touch and influence, then pass on the baton.
Hope is believing in life. Hope is wanting to continue being alive for as long as I love being alive. Which I do, almost all of the time, despite it all.
Hope is being around to see my surviving kids alive for as long as possible – for as long as our respective lives and health allow us.
Hope is the knowledge that happiness and joy and ease and luck and health are all precious treasures to be nurtured and nourished with gentle gratitude. That they are gifts and bonuses that we might be lucky enough to find along the way. That they are not givens.
Hope is my belief in people, in humanity, in our inter-connectedness.
Hope is a driver that people, leaders, WE, collectively, are capable of waking up and seeing – truly seeing – the mess we are in, and NOT giving up hope, but channelling energy and efforts towards the greater good.
Hope is my conviction that channelling more love and awareness of our inter-connectedness will inspire creative solutions that will make a positive difference, further down the line.
Even if not for us.
Even if not for this lifetime.
Even if it isn’t a fix.
My hope is a lot of things.
But it’s not a cure-all.
It’s not magical thinking.
And it doesn’t bring about quick fixes.
It’s a sustainable, regenerative source of energy that is love- and connection-based.
This hope has a wide-angled lens, focusable both on the immediate and on the longer view of time.
For the good of all beings.
From now on and out into future deep time.
Hope is a sustainable and regenerative power, a life-force, that helps us to carry what we – all – are asked to carry, in our lifetime.
Hope is a regenerative super-power that nurtures my unshakeable belief that life is worth living, “just because”.
I like that.
And it feels coherent with how I viewed things way back in 2014.
Before everything crashed and crumbled.
My hope truly is a regenerative power.
(*) The story of the photo is this: Charlotte is up in the far reaches of her country at the moment, enjoying and taking photos of the Aurora Borealis. Early this morning, as I woke up, I saw this picture, which she had sent through in my nighttime, and immediately loved it. During swimming training (still early!) I thought – “hmm – I’d love to use the photo in my blog. I’ll ask Charlotte if I may”. And of course she said, “yes”. Later on today, after lunch and inspired by the podcast, I lit the fire and did a bit of work on the sofa. But the question Megan Devine asks her guests kept on noodling in my brain. So I wrote my piece. As I got to the end and wondered, “now – what image shall I use?”, I remembered Charlotte’s picture. And as I looked at it again, more closely this time, I decided (and by the way, reasoning, logic, rationale, narrative are all in the eye of the beholder), that the light in the igloo felt like hope – pulsating, warm, encouraging hope. And that the more distant light of the Northern Lights also seemed to represent some distant, “I’ll light the way with encouragement and hope”. At least that’s my story about the photo. And it’s an honour to be able to use it. Thank you chica.