Where Does Hope Even Come From?

You’re the idiot who can never take a hint, aren’t you?

When it isn’t trying to kill me, my brain has this peculiar habit of handing over to curiosity and letting it wander at will.

Hope is always unexpected and manifests in the most defiant ways, in situations that would normally preclude it. Hope is always unexpected and flies in the face of evidence seeking to undermine it, too, because it is generous and benevolent by nature.

Hope wants to believe that the human animal is good and capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for, especially against all odds.

Hope transcends the possible and this is the reason why we love hero narratives so much and why it is the measure of our proudest achievements.

Hope is a puppy, loyal, loving, and a paragon of indefatigable enthusiasm that appears out of nowhere the minute you were about to give up on it.

You thought hope had run away but it found the way home and brought your heart back, too.

When it is trying to kill me, my brain’s yearning for relief overrides everything and what used to sustain me no longer does.

Instead, my hope looks like foolishness, so candid and pure it can only belong to the child I was, certainly not to the adult I became. If there is overwhelming evidence that points toward a hopeless case, why even attempt to keep hope on life support?

Isn’t that a form of cruelty, a form of self-abuse?

Or is it merely survival in action when everything around us looks like disaster and we’re scrambling for anything that might keep us going?

We all yearn to belong, we all long for wholehearted, whole-minded acceptance from fellow humans; we all need love. But if love is easy to spot when you know what to look for, I haven’t got a clue what it is and keep wondering whether it might be too late to learn.

Although I know how to give love, I’m not sure I know how to receive it or even whether what I receive is actually the real deal.

When it isn’t trying to kill me, my brain has this peculiar habit of handing over to curiosity and letting it wander at will.

The mind is a storyteller that posits facts without emotion will die, which is why we relate easily to a personal essay but not to an academic paper.

We tend to decide how relevant a fact is to us based on our emotional reaction to it; we aren’t as complicated as we fancy ourselves to be. It all loops back to love, nurture, human warmth, which is our most primal need and how we survive during the first years of our lives. Later, we seek to replicate the familiar in our romantic relationships, which is infelicitous when the only love we know hurts.

Hope is a puppy, remember? Stuck in childhood, the Peter Pan of emotions remains impassible, undaunted by challenges big and small.

I lost five years of my life to depression hoping for help until I resigned myself none would be forthcoming and finally took matters in my own hands. My father still hasn’t accepted Stage 4 cancer has been killing his wife for the last year. Sometimes, hope sits at the intersection of serenity and resignation, waiting for a chance.

When it is trying to kill me, my brain’s yearning for relief overrides everything and what used to sustain me no longer does.

I speak fluent hope because I come from people who do; there is no other explanation because my upbringing didn’t lend itself to such wild imaginings, quite the opposite. Instead, I became skilled in the art of wishing my life away until the day I could legally leave my mother’s home. The hope that kept my grandfather alive in Nazis labor camps during WW2 is what powers my father under a different guise and what powers me, too. Even though depression keeps corrupting it, it’s very much a family trait.

But where does hope stop and magical thinking or foolishness start and how can you tell the difference?

Can hoping against all odds ever put you in harm’s way if it renders you incapable of accepting reality or what happens when it catches up with you?

Are you the idiot who can never take a hint?

When it isn’t trying to kill me, my brain has this peculiar habit of handing over to curiosity and letting it wander at will.

This is why I hang on another hour, another day, another week, another month. This is how I’ve hung on 14 months so far after I got curious about what might be on the other side of losing five years to major depressive disorder.

Spoiler alert: I don’t know. While I’ve been gathering clues for the last year, I’m still missing many and haven’t transitioned back into a stable life yet. Instead I’m still living out of a suitcase in transit between the US and the EU even though I’ve decided to move back to Europe. But it takes so much more than willpower and two passports to make it all happen, it takes vision and what does vision feed on?

Hope.

It seems I can’t be rid of it even though it is running me into the ground and reality hasn’t been shy about letting me know exactly where I stand.

Worse than my fear of seeing hope where there is none is failing to see it when it is everywhere, in everything, in everyone.

Hearts are where hope comes from; it’s our love letter to life.

I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.

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