The Mad Persistence of Hope

Hope rears its ugly head once again.

That is a line I have used accompanied by a deep sigh for everything from falling in love to politics, and for very good reason. So rarely does hope live up to its promises.

I was very lucky last week, on a flying trip to Seattle, to have an hour’s conversation with two of my favorite people, one of whom has been known to chide me, online, for being naïve. “Naïve!” I was prone to think. And here I am one of the most skeptical creatures I know.

And yet. And yet. I could never help, when falling in love again, dreaming of a future in which this time love would give me everything I had ever asked of it. I knew such dreams were futile, but I dreamed them anyway and I always began to live my life as if they were coming true. I wasn’t naïve enough to truly believe that they would. It seems I always had one foot out the door from the start. But in the meantime, hope kept rearing its ugly head.

I no longer have any hopes of that kind, nor do I want them, but it seems that I have not given up on hope yet. These days my hopes reside in politics. Safer to hope for love, you say? Probably. But it is what it is.

I am nearly always a skeptic when it comes to politics, my friend’s accusation of naivete notwithstanding. And yet. And yet. I am aware that somewhere deep beneath my skepticism is a deep pool of hope that never seems to dry up. I suspect that my friend has a similar pool somewhere in her heart of hearts. Otherwise, why would we have spent an hour talking about the possibilities that might yet come to pass?

The Dobbs decision. The climate change bill. The obviously quite insane candidates that the opposition is fielding. All of these are this year’s springs which keep these pools of hope alive. And that is as far as I will go in talking about why I remain hopeful for this year in politics. Nothing crushes hopes like actual expectations.

So perhaps my friend and I have similar hopes but are more vocal about our expectations. She is wiser than I and refuses to give rein to voicing expectations based on hope. I, on the other hand, don’t want to give aid and comfort to the skeptics who might use them to justify sitting this next election out, so I try to keep our spirits up. And yet I know that my skeptical friend has no intention of sitting anything out. Spirits have their own way of dealing with things and likely have no need of my sugar-coating. But who doesn’t like a bit of sugar now and then?

The sad reality is that hope itself makes no promises. So if we find ourselves sobbing into our pillows in November, we should not blame hope. After all, all that hope can offer is hope. Expectations can wither and die, but with hope there is always tomorrow. And as the philosopher Miss Scarlett would say, tomorrow is another day.