This quote has been blowing my mind ever since last week.***
I mean…… I am an educator. Hope is the fuel of educators. Hope is what gets us through the day, when we stare at a kid and envision his despicable adult-self as a mashup-CEO-from-hell of a company like Enron, and yet we continue to TRY and teach him to say, “I’m wrong” and “I’ll stop talking about myself and listen to you.” Hope is what gets us through the day when we learn another kid has been traumatized by watching his uncle get murdered on the street, yet we keep trying to reach him, despite the fact he’s alternately spaced-out and punching people, and you only get to reach him for 45 minutes a day, and that doesn’t include giving him food or shelter.
We need hope. Without hope, sometimes, we have no reason to continue.
And yet I feel Chodron when she writes, “Hope robs us of the present moment…. [Hope is when] We feel that there is something missing in us.”
As I’ve understood it:
* If I hope I’ll learn to stop burning holes in metal pots because I keep forgetting I’ve boiled water = I see I’m missing that ability right now.
* If I hope I’ll start feeling “heard” and “safe” in a relationship = I see it’s lacking the respectful, adult communication it needs in order to function like a respectful, adult relationship.
* If I hope for police brutality to stop = I see our society is missing racial equality.
So here’s what I want to know:
What is the tipping point between HOPE and REALITY?
A woman in an abusive relationship might hope her husband will recover from his alcoholism, and that in turn will improve their relationship. Yet should her hope in his recovery be so strong that she’s willing to overlook the reality of her husband beating her? Probably not, especially if it’ll end with her death.
That’s a tipping point.
But it’s extreme. So where do I draw the line? At what point am I hoping for so much that I am denying reality of the present moment?
If I look back at my life through the framework of Hope and Reality, I see how Hope has carried me through so many of my relationships; I can see how I stuck with relationships for months and months after the reality of growth and fulfillment faded, and the hope had to fill in the holes.
Sometimes, I have had too much hope. And that has hurt me, because I’ve been too willing to overlook my present needs.
When has hope actually decreased my happiness, because it has blinded me to the present?
Should I just let go of “hope” — because that may actually make me more accepting, and therefore happier?
This blog post has been brought to you by 4 days of solitude, Pema Chodron, and things falling apart.
Also, if you have answers to my questions, please, share the wisdom.
***I don’t jive with Chodron’s definition of “hope” as “someone else knows what is going on,” because I don’t believe in an omnipresent God that rules us all. I don’t really think anyone else has the answers, either. Everything else in the quote, yes, makes perfect sense to me.