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8e42f615336214a5b685c71fa197b2aeI believe strongly in fate, destiny, karma, whatever it is that you want to call the life cycle that we are all given. It is a laid out path before us that was determined long before we drew our first breath and it will guide us in the final seconds as our soul settles into death. However, there is a trick. As there is always a trick it isn’t something that should surprise any of us. The trick is simple: we don’t know what it is that fate has destined for us. We don’t know the answer to tomorrow’s possibilities. And there, in that small space between what is and what we will become, lies that beautiful emotion of hope.

I believe that most of life is something that we are taught. We are taught hate and fear. We are taught that there is such things as disgust, cruelty, love, lust, friendship. But hope, hope is not something that can be taught. It is simply a part of the fabric of this patched up life that we have been given.

Hope lives. Despite the fact that each of us have a destiny and our fate is laid out before us whether we wish to change it or not there is a time when things are less sure. I think it is best that I lead with an example; something that we can physically see. Imagine if you will that someone has asked you to marry them. You have a choice. Now we all know that fate already knows that choice. Maybe think of it in terms of the all seeing God that has already made his decision about who and what you are. There really is no choice because the choice has already been set in that stone.

But right before you make the decision, the decision that everyone already knows, there is a small moment of hope. Hope that you make the right choice. Hope that whatever choice you make is the correct choice and will leave you in stitches of laughter and the silence of joy. Hope that there is a purpose; that there is a reason that the question being asked should be answered. In that time between the decision itself and the question being asked is hope.

To me love is easy; it’s pretty much a yes or no. Hatred, anger, disappointment, happiness, kindness, all of this is easy. But to have hope, to hold onto hope when the lights are extinguished and the pain is sitting silently on your skin waiting for the acknowledgement it desperately needs, believing in hope is probably the most difficult thing asked of us.

Most of us, especially those of us with these mental injuries, live in a world where hope is an image and a mirage that others know intimately. For me, to find and cherish hope, I have to traverse into some pretty deep darkness that most would fear but I know as my home. Because my life revolves around a darkness that I see and feel even in the teeth of great ecstasy that journey to that second of hope is fraught with the unexpected truth of what mental illness costs. In order to find myself in the hope that I, like those around me, desperately need in order to hold onto this life when the truth of my life is glaringly apparent, I must cross all the deprecation of life and believe the journey will result in that illusive hope. It isn’t an easy journey; but neither is hope an easy emotion.

Mary Tyler Moore recently passed and one of her more iconic moments, that when she is in the big city tossing her hat in the air, was repeated over and over. I don’t know much about the Mary Tyler Moore, I wasn’t born when that show was popular and I wasn’t allowed to watch TV when I was growing up so I missed much of the repeats that were so popular then. Instead I have to guess at why she is throwing that hat and what precipitated the act in the first place.  But it is the look on her face, the joy of getting something right, that seems to me to have the weight of hope.

Maybe she got the job and is celebrating. Maybe she is excited about being in the big city. Maybe she just felt like being on camera that day. I don’t know and I don’t need to know. I can use that expression as she finally let’s go of what seems like the weight of a heavy load and heave her cap to the wind to see what hope can bring. The character in that iconic shot has no idea who she will be, what she will become, and the paths she will cross to get where happiness isn’t a moment in the middle of a busy city but the balance of her life. It is in that moment when there is hope that whatever is coming will not only change everything for her but change her where no one will ever see.

I could go on with images about hope but I use this one because it is familiar right now. It is an important image not in the story but in the understanding that before fate has a say or destiny begins it’s footwork there is a space of hope; a space where there is the belief that somehow it will all work.

Hope is not something I can easily identify. I tend to crush my own dreams and self-destruct my own paths before I can even get started. I am a negative person. I am a person who will never be able to look at any situation in this world and see it through a positive perspective. I can’t even go to a movie without listing the potential problems with the story line that I haven’t read nor have actually seen. Those pitfalls, those half-empty glasses are the only ones I own and I drink out of them every day.

If you look at this world without glasses on, when everything is a little fuzzy, what you will notice is that most people want to believe in hope. They pray for it. They deal with their ghosts and demons in order to try and find that hope far off at the bottom of that rainbow. They have good days, these people, and they have bad days. But they still see the sun shining as an omen of goodness and the red cardinal as an embodiment of the great angels existing beyond the heavens. Most people believe in hope even without optimism or the belief that all will be okay because we know that with hope there are a million possibilities. But I can’t do this.

My hope lies often in that intersection between what might happen and what is happening. My hope lies in the middle of the night as the dreams of what I wish most in this world plays like a loop in my head. My hope lies within my darkness, not promising light, but promising that one day in my darkness I will find that which I need more than light. My hope lies in the future that is bleak and dark; the future that so many celebrate. My hope lies in the promise I long ago made myself at one of those famous intersections: I will never ignore the pain anymore than I would ignore the promise of joy. My hope lies in this nebulous area between what fate has promised and what I have promised myself.

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