Beyond Hope

by Simon Goland, November 4, 2012

A student was recently sharing about a sense of hopelessness s/he was going through. Whether it was the change in weather, the upcoming USA elections, the overwhelm with work and school, or the energy crisis… there was a moment when all the reasons collided into a dark and heavy impact. S/he quoted Jimmy Carter as saying that, “Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning.” Malaise. Hopelessness. Dread.

When I take a moment to slow down and get present to all the student shared, I can relate to the sense of hopelessness and of “what’s the point.” Unfortunately, I don’t need to go far or look hard for reasons, as they are all around me. Ironically, it takes more efforts to look for what does work and what gives life around me.

“A world war is underway. It’s unlike any war in history. People around the world are not identifying themselves along national or religious lines, but as a global consciousness: demanding peace, democracy, sustainability, & economic justice. Their enemy is the corporatocracy that has bought governments, created its own armed enforcers, engaged in economic fraud, and plundered treasuries and ecosystems.” – Naomi Wolf

Yet, even when I can relate, is this the best way of being, for me and for the student?

I remember when, many years ago, at a workshop I was attending, the facilitator was talking about the importance and the difference between “This is what I do” and “This is what I am up to.” She shared her “up to” vision, which was incredible and huge – something along the lines of having no children in the world being homeless and without adults to take care of them. One of the participants challenged her to the fact that she will never be able to make it happen or see, in her lifetime. And I will never forget her reply.

She said, very calmly and in an incredibly solid and centered voice, “I know. Yet, I am willing to die trying.”

I am thinking of what it takes to hold such a strong focus and conviction. Often, despite all odds and a reality that wants to show us something different. The deep knowing of the “Why” of our life’s trajectory and the willingness to follow it, day after day. And, with that, knowing that we might not live to see the fruits of our labour, even though it is clearly labour of love and passion. Hope, trust, passion – these definitely are required ingredients.

“I was put on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I’m so far behind I’ll never die.” – Calvin

Yet, there is more. There is purpose. Calling. Knowing. When we do connect to it and accept it as our destiny, there really is no way around it any more. Sure, it is not going to always be easy. I actually don’t think it is meant to be. It is likely something that will stretch and challenge us, peeling layer after layer of our sense of self, until something core and foundational will be uncovered. Something so solid that it will be able to withstand anything and everything life will graciously send our way, to put us to the test.

And then, once we know and remain connected to that core and our purpose, hope will become secondary. Because there will be an immutable knowing.