” . . . and my life is still
Trying to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination . . .”
This is such a great song. What is hope? What does it mean? What does it instill in our soul? What does it provide in the ways of forward motion?
Do we equate success with hope . . . is success in some way proportional to hope?
After all, what is life without hope?
I remember talking with a friend whose girlfriend had experienced a critical and heartbreaking rock-climbing accident. I remember not knowing exactly what to ask or to say to my friend, as his girlfriend was an Olympic-quality athlete and was enduring the painful realization that life would not be in any state of re-dial in the ways of movement and in the ways of time.
We talked and I asked how life was healing and evolving. His response: “Well, where there is life, there is hope.”
I remember this conversation well. It struck me that this was all there really was left to say in the aftermath of a life-changing tragedy.
I think of this song by the 4 Non Blondes and I realize that hope can feel like “that great big hill.” We worry and we fret. We despair and we want to give up. We want to crawl into a shell. We want to try something entirely different — even when it means walking away from an epic life-dream.
But hope tugs at us and gets us up in the morning. We want time to stand still for even a fractional moment. But it doesn’t. It simply doesn’t. There are days when the merry-go-round is moving too fast to factor Hope into its revolution but we still manage to catch a glimpse of something that spells b-e-t-t-e-r.
“And so I wake in the morning
And I step outside
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream at the top of my lungs
What’s going on?”
So, we keep breathing and we tell ourselves that life can get better. That different is not always bad. That sometimes different opens new windows and doors that we could never have imagined as being so beautiful and loving and perfect. That we worry too readily. That there are days when we want to scream at the top of our lungs: “What’s going on?” But there are also days when we say, “I never could have imagined this. It is so perfect.”
We make our plans and we project our timeline. We map out our SMART goals and we think we know our destination, but we don’t. Which is a blessing on the good days. And a blessing on the bad days. I remember being at a retreat and listening to a woman telling a group of us about the challenging things that had been taking place in her life. She said that she had been feeling sorry for herself until she talked to someone who had challenged her in a big way. This person asked her: “If you were in a large group of people and everyone were to put their biggest problem in a brown paper sack . . . would you be willing to reach into that sack and take on whatever problem that you pulled out of the sack?”
She posed the question to all of us at the retreat. There was silence. “Exactly,” this woman said. “No one feels capable of taking on different. We are all somehow amazingly prepared to deal with what it is we given to deal with.”
You can see why this story has stuck with me all these years. I lost track of every artist from this retreat, but I still thank this woman for both sharing her heartbreaking situation AND for the healing challenge that she posed to all of us.
So when I ask myself or my loved ones or the Universe: “What’s going on?” . . . I remember this story and “I take a deep breath and I get real high” and I move toward something that feeds my soul at the Table of Hope.
It sometimes takes courage to realize that I do not know “what’s going on,” but I want to opt for staying “high” and keeping my eye on “a destination.”