Hope is Bothering to Ask the Question

“What is hope?”

My husband was standing in the kitchen, that made him fair game. I thought maybe he’d toss me a tiny gem I could use for today’s post. (Yes, I’m finding it so difficult to write about hope that I’m willing to mine an unsuspecting bystander for ideas before he’s had his morning coffee. Brother, can you spare a metaphor?) I should know better.

He stopped what he was doing and stared into space. I prodded him a bit. He said that he was thinking about it, that he didn’t want to say the first thing that came into his head. His answer, he explained, had three components:

“One is poetic and metaphorical; one is cerebral and psychological; and one is metaphysical.”

So, no quick gem-toss for me. I know when he finally gets around to articulating what he’s thinking, it will be interesting. He’s much more of a thinker than I am. I write to figure out what I’m thinking and feeling. He thinks first. His way is less messy, less prone to my wild emotional swings and contradictions. My way gets me in trouble with people who assume that what I’m saying is the result of actual thought, not the thought process itself, in all its magnificent, turbulent fluidity.

I offered him a guest spot on the blog. (Nice try, on my part.) He declined and left to run a few errands, but stopped first to straighten the bird feeder knocked sideways by squirrels. Maybe that’s hope—battling squirrels and believing you can win. He sent me this text from the driveway:

Cerebral: hope is a constructive human tendency to believe we can obtain or achieve what we desire, sometimes despite evidence to the contrary.

Yup. Squirrels.

“What is hope?” My daughter is on the couch. She’s got her coffee.

“What is this for?”

“Just an innocent question.” (Never trust someone who says that as she’s typing.)

“Let me think of words.” Right. Just like her dad.

“I don’t think I want to answer that. I don’t think I can give a non-cynical definition.”

Can’t argue with that. We’re a happy bunch here. Still, I’m glad I asked. It makes me feel less alone knowing that I’m not the only one in the house who doesn’t have an easy answer for this question.
My husband sent another text:

Just one more for now: hope is the bridge between desire and belief.

Yes, and my infrastructure is failing. I’m often stuck in desire, with belief feeling like a world away and no way to get there.

Should I feel bad about sending him out into the world thinking about hope? He’ll continue working this out in his mind long after I’ve moved on for the day. I have ironing to do. (Hope is a freshly ironed shirt.)

No. This is good. I’m curious to find out what else he thinks; I’m tired of my own mind. And even though I won’t be expending a lot of mental effort today trying to answer this question, I will be on alert for those glimpses of hope that tell me it’s still alive and working behind the scenes, maybe straightening out what the squirrels keep knocking sideways.

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