Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Discovering Hope

In my last entry I wrote about my realization that I was living without hope. I have spent a lot of time since then thinking about hope. What is hope? Where does it come from? How do you sustain it? And maybe the most important question is: How do you decide what to hope for?

Several months back I wrote about an episode of Grey’s Anatomy where a terminal cancer patient talks about how sometimes hope can be scary. I can totally relate to that. For me hope has been a double edge sword. Before every scan, every blood test, every doctor’s appointment I would hope that the treatment was working, that I was getting better, and that I was winning and cancer would lose. Time after time I would be disappointed and my hopes would be squashed. I have had this disease for three years and in that time I can only think of one time that the news was good. I will admit that sometimes there was some good news, but at the same time there was also bad news. I felt as though for every step forward I took three steps back. Even when I was told that one time the tumors had shrunk and the clinical trial worked I was afraid to hope that it would stay that way. In the end time showed that the good news could not hold.

After time and time again of being disappointed I told myself that I was changing what I hoped for. I decided to hope for more time and for that time to be quality. That hope came true, but did I dare to hope for even more time. I can’t put a finger on when I stopped having hope, but I am sure that is was not a conscious decision or even tangible moment. I think it just became easier to lose expectations and maybe then I would be surprised when good things happen, or rather would be happy when bad things didn’t.

I don’t know if I have any true answers for the questions I listed above, but I am going to give some of them a try. Let’s start with “What is hope?” As usual when I want to find an answer to something I go to Google and see what the vast expanse of the internet can tell me. So I searched for the definition of hope. The most common definition I found is: To wish for or desire something with the expectation of fulfillment. If we go with that definition than one would have to believe there is a chance that what is hoped for would happen, but even more so would have some belief that it would happen.

That brings to mind another question. How do I hope for something when all the evidence shows the probability is low for it happening? Could it be that giving of hope that something will happen is preventing yourself from having the expectation and thus a way of protecting yourself from getting hurt.

This brings me back to yet another one of the original questions. What do I hope for? Maybe the flaw has been that I have been hoping for the wrong things. I thought that I have made the decision to live for each day and find joy in every moment and had hope that I could do that as long as possible. So where or when did that change. When did I stop living for the moment and just settle for existing? For that I have no answer. I can’t even tell you what I am hoping for, but I can tell you that I am searching within myself for some answers. I am looking for signs of the things I want to hope for, what I want my future to be. I do not know what my future holds and it scares the bejeezus out of me. The truth is I don’t know how long I will live. Medical science tells me I should not have been alive this long. I might have only a few more months to live or I could live another year or 5 years. What I have figured out is that it does not really matter how long I live, but it matters what I do with the time I have. So I am starting a new journey. This is a journey of discovering what I can do right now to be happy and what I want to do with my life. It kind of feels like trying to answer the “what do I want to do with my life”. The answer for today is I don’t know, but I will ask myself that question every day until I get some answers.

I once told someone that life is not a spectator sport. I said that life is about rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. I guess it is time for me to take my own advice and leave the bleachers and get back on the field.

To close this post, I pose a few questions for each of you to ponder. What do you think is the definition of hope? What are your hopes and what are you doing to make them come true?

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