Tag Archives: hope

From Whence Shall Come Hope?

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
Alexander Pope from An Essay on Man

Hope. It’s what keeps us going through the roughest of times and allows us to find a little something extra to pull out when we feel we are closing to giving in. In fact, I would argue that without hope, little progress would have ever occurred in human history. Why toil and struggle in some seemingly noble effort if there was not even the slightest shred of hope?

Sure, there are stories of heroic last stands in the face of insurmountable odds (The Spartans against the Persian Empire or the Alamo), but by and large, we don’t tend to want to put our hearts and souls into anything that feels pointless or predetermined.

Hope has been on my mind on a lot of late, truth be told. I tend to be an optimistic and hopeful person, but the last few weeks have been a struggle for me. If there is one thing that challenges my belief in the general goodness of life, it’s good or innocent people suffering.  I can’t help but think long and hard about the people of Japan, Haiti, Yemen, Libya and Egypt (and I know I likely missed at least one country that has been in the news of late).  But on a much more personal level, the events of a few people very close to me have also weighed heavily on my mind.  The woman that’s meant more to me than words can capture who is still fighting to recover from the after-effects of leukemia treatments and who, while just seeking a few moments of peace within which to recover, finds out the beloved dog who was there for every step of the fight of her illness has bone cancer.  Or one of my absolute best friends relapsing again with leukemia and contracting a bad (and incredibly scary) case of viral pneumonia to the point where he needed to be intubated to breathe.

It could be incredibly easy to lapse into a very gray funk… because, truth be told, hope seems to be missing temporarily or perhaps hiding in some dark corner where it’s waiting to reemerge.  Those two people so close to me… how would I tell them that “This too shall pass” or to keep believing when it seems like every step forward is soon followed by a rude shove forcing them to relent their hard-fought gains?  How do you stem the tears of someone who is trying to find a little solid footing, but now is heartbroken over the very likely need to say goodbye all-too-soon to the furry friend who was an absolute angel the last 8 years?  Anything said can easily come across hollow and insincere to even the most forgiving of viewpoints.

As I’ve often said in this blog, I don’t pretend to have all the answers and write more to share my own experiences as honestly as I can.  I do this in the hope that maybe just one other person will find a bit of insight or an ounce of comfort in what I have to say – that would be a tremendous win in my mind and heart.

So what to do?  Well, for me, the hope can often come from the very fight itself.  The situations that have been on my mind can all reach happy (or at least happier endings) and, hence, are worth fighting for.  My role becomes the shoulder to cry on and the friend to lean on.  Hmm… not sure if “role” even captures it properly.  Duty – I think that’s how I feel about it.  I feel incredibly blessed and fortunate that I do not have these horrible things happening to me and so I take it upon myself as my personal duty to bear as much as I can for those I care about.  If their hope wavers, mine will not and maybe… just maybe… they will fight a little harder or believe a little more because of that.

Life has so much out of our control.  That’s been the biggest lesson I’ve learned over the last 10 to 15 years.  My reaction to that is to gut it out and give my best to those precious areas I can control.  Sometimes I do it well and others times… ehh… maybe not so much, but I keep trying.  The fight itself is worth it… but more importantly… those that mean so much to me are worth even more.

Plus, life always will throw a moment like this one at you:

That's one fired up nephew
Christmas hope courtesy of my nephew

I defy anyone not to find hope in something like that.  I do every time I see it.

John Calvin: The Original Buzz Killington

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This distinguished-looking fellow on the left is one John Calvin and let me tell you something… I’m never going to invite him to a party at my house for 2 very important reasons.  First, he’s dead.  That truly puts a damper on any real chance of an invite to Chez Kuzia outside of some kind of freaky-deaky seance… and this guy doesn’t play that game.  The second reason is despite his importance as a historical figure in the Protestant Revolution, a major tenet of his philosophy was that of predestination.  So, in other words… your deeds and actions in this world really don’t mean squat because whether you will end up in Heaven or Hell was determined before you were even born.  Yikes.

So it’s not that I don’t invite people with differing views over to have a cold beer and watch a game.  Au contraire.  But a philosophy built around the notion that your actions in this world are for naught?  That’s not how to liven up an intimate gathering of friends, you know?  The guy was the original Buzz Killington (you know… the OTHER distinguished gentleman depicted in this blog).

In my wacky view of the world, there are meaningful choices to be made at almost any point in your life.  You can really choose any moment to change things up.  Sure, the change can be hard as hell to pull off… but it’s still there as an option to embrace if you make that decision… and not the LeBron James kind of “Decision” where you get to go on TV and wallow around in your own self-involvement.  Yuck.

I know that, for myself, change is never that easy of a thing, depending on what the contemplated change may be.  Obviously the bigger the change, the deeper the level of hemming and hawing on my part.  Even in the midst of all of that, I still find a tremendous amount of comfort and, dare I say, hope in the fact that choice and free will are always within my reach.

Take today, for instance.  I decided enough was enough and finally got my lazy-no-blogging-keister in gear and got this post up.  It became a matter of just making the decision to stop putting off blogging, stop accepting what (in the moment) can seem like perfectly fine excuses not to do it and just do it.

The funny thing is that my decision stems mostly from being generally fed up… a condition that find is perhaps one of the best catalysts of change.  You just need to hit that point of “Oh for the love of God… I can’t take it any more.  Let’s get cracking.”  That’s where I found myself as I returned from my work trip last week to Oregon, which went very well from a work perspective, but which was completely dismal from a sasquatch-spotting perspective.  I mean seriously… I was there Tuesday through Friday.  Not even a glimpse out of the corner of my eye?  Anyhoo, the reflection time during the travel gave me some impetus to get this blog back up and going.

Plus… you have to admit… it’s pretty awesome to juxtapose John Calvin and Buzz Killington together… and to use the word “juxtapose”. +1 for me.