Hope is My Shadow

Writing about hope is harder than I imagined it would be. I find myself searching my days, trying to find glimpses of it in the ordinary. I try to capture and catalog those moments I find it, but I’m struggling. Of course I am.

Hopelessness is the seed of my depression. It’s the feeling I’m most familiar with. I’ve built my life around it—sometimes pretending it’s not there, especially when I’m with other people, but for the most part accepting it as the molten core of my being. My depression says that nothing matters, no matter how good it might appear in the moment. Don’t trust it! It’s not going to last. Not only that, but it’s not actually real. It’s not true, whatever this happy little occurrence is on the outside, it’s hollow or rotten underneath. This isn’t an enlightened state of non-attachment. Not for me. This feeling comes with a deep despair, utter despondency, held closely at the center of my self, often invisible to casual observers.

So, here I am this month, trying to write what I don’t know. What is hope? What does it feel like outside the cave? Is it present in my life without my noticing? That’s the question that most intrigued me, the one that is forcing me to pay closer attention.

What makes me smile spontaneously? What makes me laugh? Those are clues that hope might be dancing about. In those unguarded moments, there’s a tiny bit a light shining through the gloom. Can I accept it without creating a reason to snuff it out? Can I tolerate these little lights here and there? Maybe if I leave them alone, let them come and go as they will, they’ll pop up more often, stay longer. Maybe I can clear a space large enough for hope to sit quietly next to me, so I can learn how it feels to spend time with her.

I think these things, then get angry with myself. I know better! If I open that door, I’m inviting pain, not hope. Hope makes promises she can’t keep, then skips out to party with the cool kids. Pain takes over the couch and hogs the remote. I’ve done this before. What am I thinking? This never ends well for me.

But here I am anyway, on another Tuesday in December, wanting to believe that things will be different this time, having to admit to myself, that despite myself, that’s hope.