Hope Springs Eternal

by Mark Ivar Myhre on December 28, 2010

Well, it’s that time of year again.  Time to get excited about the new year, and all the new things we’re going to do to improve ourselves.  Oh, the changes we’re going to make! Of course, the excitement usually dies down by the end of January, but hey, it’s fun while it lasts!

This is also the time of year when you’re liable to be inundated with new products for sale that will help you improve your life.  Or that’s the idea, anyway.  Personally, I’m eager to see what kind of emails show up in my inbox from some of the slickest salesmen in the business.  Not that I’ll buy anything.  I’ve been burned too many times.

Plus, I’ve pretty much got what I want already.  And besides, most of what I see is just old stuff in a new package, anyway.  And I’ve already bought all the old packages…

Now I don’t know about you, but I had a lot of pain and misery to overcome.  I remember some horrible times.  The funny thing is, I always had something going for me.

I always had hope.

Well, not always.  But certainly most of the time.  I lost touch with it in my darkest days.  But it always came back.  And to this very day, I don’t know why.  I don’t know why I had hope amidst such despair.  All I know is hope kept me alive when nothing else was going for me.  I always felt if I could just get though this – whatever ‘this’ happened to be at the moment – then everything would eventually be okay.

If I can just make it through today, then tomorrow will be better.  And if I can make it through tomorrow, then someday I’ll be okay with being here on a dark and dirty planet which rhyme and reason has abandoned long ago.

The world still seems crazy to me.  I can just barely imagine a more dysfunctional society.  And when I look out around me, I see things getting crazier and crazier.  Fortunately, the hope keeps getting stronger and stronger.

But you see, it’s a particular kind of hope; a luminous hope.

Hope also has a dark side, and that dark side can drive you deeper and deeper into pain and misery.  How is that possible?  Because it depends on what you have hope in.

We come into this world, and we soon end up seeking to find some way to cope.   The first coping tool of a child is self pity.  Pity is an anesthetic to numb the pain.  It puts you to sleep and it deadens the pain.  It helps you survive childhood.  But you’re supposed to give it up as you grow older.  When you start putting your hope in pity, it becomes like a grown-up sucking their thumb.  Not a pretty site.

The second tool, quickly following self pity, is judgment.  I mean, we have to judge ourselves for being in pity!  We know how pathetic it is.  So your only option is to either stop doing self pity, or else judge yourself for having it in the first place.  And judge yourself for not giving it up.

Likewise, people can put a lot of hope in judgments just as they put their hope in self pity.  But when you put your hope in pity and judgments, you have to keep finding new reasons to feel sorry for yourself, and new circumstances to judge.  It becomes a vicious downward cycle.

That’s the dark side of hope.

And now we’re all grown up.  Maybe we’re wise enough to let go of the pity and the judgments.  So what tools do we reach for now?

The two biggest coping tools of the grown-up are control and story-telling.

Control.  Isn’t that when someone else is trying to make you do something you really don’t want to do?  Well, yes, that’s one tiny face of control:

“Control is what other people try to do to you that you don’t like.”

But that’s such a tiny sliver of what control really is, that it almost doesn’t even count.  I mean, you can see that a mile away.  ‘Control freaks’ can’t hide from anybody.  You might not like it when someone you love is a control freak, but for the most part you can laugh it off if you want to.

No, control is what you do to yourself.

Forget what the other person is trying to do to you.  (As you ignore what you’re doing to them!  Since it’s always a two-way street…  Control freaks are the easiest to control, as the saying goes.)  No, the real issue with control is the damage you’re doing to yourself.

Here’s the two main tenets of control:

1. Control is always a desire to create safety. Usually, it’s a desire to make love safe; to not lose the focus of love.

2.  Control is always a destructive energy. It’s the opposite of conscious reality creation.

I want to create more safety in my life, so I have to control everything as much as possible.  But instead I destroy what little safety I have.  Therefore, I must try even harder to control.  Control, by its very nature, doesn’t work.  By definition, it can’t work.  Not really.

But if I’ve put my hope in control, all I can do is try harder and harder to control. And the fear grows.  Fear is the energy behind control. Fear fuels the attempts to control.  The more control doesn’t work, the more afraid I get, and the more I try to control

And as I mentioned, the biggest control happens inside ourselves.  Such as, by attempting to control our emotions.  I’m sure I could rattle off a thousand words on that topic, but I’ll spare you for now!

The other coping tool – and just as destructive – comes from our story telling.  And it’s also just as insidious.  While fear drives control, pain is the driving energy behind story telling.

So what is ‘story telling’, exactly?

That’s when we make up stories to explain what happens in our lives.  Or, what happened.  Or what will happen.  So, it involves the past, the present, and the future.

Everything must be explained!   Nothing can be left ambiguous.  First of all, we have one over-arching story that explains our whole life.  I call it ‘the little story’.  It’s a story that involves tragedy and pain and suffering and makes sense of why our life is the way it is.

Mostly, it’s used to explain why we aren’t more.  More happy, more successful, more loving, more loved, more whatever.  Now, what’s so insidious about the little story is that it really is true.  The events, for the most part, really did happen.  And we really were wronged in some way.

Sometimes, horribly wronged.

But then, all too often, after we get to the part about how we were wronged, we make it worse.  We use our personal tragedy to rationalize and justify our life today.  Rather than making it a story of personal triumph, it usually becomes a story of lack and limitation.

That’s what I did.  I took a mediocre wrong and built it up so big it blocked the sun.  It left me in a tenebrous position where everything was dark and murky and hard to see.  I lived in this umbrage for decades before I realized I could just walk out any time I wanted.

We take our situation of how we were wronged by another or by the world, and add our own personal wrong to it.  We use the first wrong to limit ourselves in any of many different ways.  Which wouldn’t be so bad if two wrongs made a right…

And in addition to the one main ‘little story’ we also have a tendency and a propensity to tell many other even smaller stories.  Stories that shape and often shame our lives.  You know what I mean.  Stories of how we’re ‘not good enough’.  How we’re unworthy and undeserving.  Stories of how we can’t do this and can’t have that and can’t be who we’re truly destined to be.

The stories are so insidious and often go unrecognized.  It’s only when we step back and look at our lives from a higher perspective do we see what we’re doing to ourselves.

And whatever hope we have travels straight into these stories.  There’s a certain twisted perverted hope in our stories.

The stories make sense of the world and of our lives.  In a strange way, they assuage the pain.   When hope filters into our little stories, that’s the dark side of hope.  And this dark side of hope can prolong our agony for decades.  It happened to me.

Okay, enough with the negativity.

It’s a new year!  Yippee!   Let’s all get excited and make promises to ourselves.  This time it really will be different!

Sarcasm aside, it truly can be.  I mention all this about the dark side of hope to make a point.  Hope springs eternal.  It really does.  That statement is more than a poetic aphorism.  Hope really does spring eternal.

In the darkest night you can still find a glimmer of hope.  And in the brightest, most glorious day you can also find hope.

You see, hope is not only the refuge of the desperate:

“All we can do at this point is hope.”

When you hear that statement, you tend to think:

“Oh my God!  He’s going to die!”

Because all we have left is hope.

Hope becomes the emotion of last resort only because that’s the only thing we’ll LET it be.  We make hope go to the end of the line.  First, we have to do ‘everything humanly possible’ to make the situation better.  When everything else has failed, then we’ll hope.

I’m saying it doesn’t have to be this way.  Hope can be with us the whole way.  You can use hope to help generate the reality you want, not just to avert the reality you don’t want.

Hope can be an ally. It can be an anchor.  It can be a guiding light.  It can be a powerful force to help you overcome adversity and achieve your goals.

Remember, hope springs eternal.  If you don’t use it consciously, it will naturally tend to filter into those dark places and will bolster your attempts to control and your attempts to tell yourself stories.  It may even bolster your pity and your judgments.  You don’t want that.

Hope flows like your emotions flow.  And you already know what happens when you don’t let your emotions naturally flow.  Things get ugly.   Well, hope is the same way.

The energy of hope is alive, vibrant, and powerful.
And now is the perfect time to start using hope in a positive way.  It’s a new year, with new energies and forces.  It’s a powerful time, and powerful times challenge you to rise up.  They challenge you to respond.  It’s your soul’s call to adventure.

You can use hope to achieve your goals for this new year.

So how do you do that?

I’m still working on it…  Give me a day or two and I’ll have a plan.  I already recorded one meditation on hope but it just didn’t seem good enough.  So I’m going to come up with another one.  I’ll be working on this and spending a lot of time in meditation to try to come up with something that is good enough.

Basically, I want to bring more ‘luminous hope’ into my own life.  And I want to help bring more hope into your life.  Because then it becomes like riding a wave of energy.  And whatever you want can happen easier and with less struggle.

Hope springs eternal.  I KNOW that.  The question is, how to tap into that hope.  Because when you consciously tap into hope, then you don’t have to worry about it sinking down into those dark energies such as pity and manipulation.

I’ll get back with you real soon on how to use hope.

{ 1 comment }

Patricia December 28, 2010 at 10:22 pm

I believe that hope is the foundation of our faith and anchor for our soul. If we hope for that which we can not see and wait patiently standing firm in our faith we will find peace and joy.
It is good that we hope and quietly wait. If we think that there is no hope then what is left? What will give us the courage to face the fiery darts of emotional pain?

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