Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Little Hope

There are little and big tragedies all around the world every day. From the sad disasters everyone hears about like the recent Hurricane Sandy, war in Syria, and shooting in Newtown, Connecticut to the personal disasters like hospitalized fathers (I love you Dad) and dying grandparents all of us deal with pain and loss every day. As John Green put it, the world is "irreparably broken" and all we hold on to is a little thing called hope as the world is seemingly crumbling into a state of unfixable unfairness and entropy. The world is very depressing and life is the most fragile thing we will ever own. If anyone knows this I do. When I was five I was told that I would be blind by the time I was fourteen. When I was fourteen I was told I would be dead by the time I was seventeen. Now I have a few extra years, but live on a very thin ledge near the chasm of death. As Hank Green says "It doesn't matter what game you are living for. If you are living for it you'll never win. ... we are all playing it and we are all losing it." ( We can't cheat death and we can't escape tragedy. We can fight against a tide of doom and choose to play the right games, but it takes mental toughness and immense courage to find hope in some situations. Sometimes it feels like your life isn't worth living. After my transplant I thought I might never be well again and little kept me alive (the magic of Guild Wars, my family's persistence), but I survived and the miracle of hope filled the void that was my life.

No matter how revolting the Earth around you seems, you have to always remember that “your world is round and appears to gleam with perfection” (Harjo, Joy. A Map to the Next World. New York: Norton. 2000.). Hope comes from a place of having seen small tragedies resolved. On the stage, in pages of a book, and in your every day life you have practiced pain and overcome it before. We've seen Chilean miners pulled up from deep, dark shafts after two days with no food. We've seen hearts implanted into people that should be dead. Hope comes from an evolutionary advantage we have gained after millions of years of breeding to fight against death and destruction at any cost. We fight because it is the thing we are bred to do. Our bodies have antibodies and our minds have hope. We know that sadness and frustration exist, but those around us remind us that beauty and joy exist in equally abundant quantities and we just need to choose which to measure. The Hunger Games says that, "[Hope] is the only thing stronger than fear" and I believe it. The most afraid I've ever been was the morning before my heart transplant, but I did it anyway because my doctors and my family told me they could fix people. When I commented that the hospital was just a place to keep sick people my doctor responded, "no it is a place for people who are getting better." If life is a game the boss battle is between doom and hope. Doom always wins, but only in the last moment. Until then, we can make the choice of who to fight for.


Bob Singer said...

thanks Em. despite having a realistic worldview, you avoid cynicism and despair. somehow youre able to pull off hope while acknowledging doom. that seems contradictory but i get it. sorry, can't do capital letters

Aunt Anne said...

I am comforted thinking that the earth, like a hospital, is " a place where people are getting better."

Keep sharing your unique insights.

Love you,

KathieG said...

Em, I know you are leery of my movie choices, but since we share a belief in the power of hope, you should check out one of my favorite books -- Human Options by Norman Cousins, "An Autobiographical Notebook." He has so many quotes that make you think, and feel inspired. He has a lot of quotes about hope. Such as:
"The starting point for a better world is the belief that it is possible." or "No one really knows enough to be a pessimist." or "The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination and the energy to get started." And then there's the Emily Dickinson poem about hope, which I really like, though I'm not sure I fully understand it. I don't think I could write an essay on what it means, but I can FEEL what it means.


Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

EmilyOrange said...

For Kathie,
Analyzed- not well, but analyzed