I was bearing the late hours of jet lag one night by reading a book when I came across the lines, “And hope, when it came to Leo, was a one-way ticket to despair.” Despite being put in such light context in the book, the line was etched in my mind instantly. At first just in the “hah, relatable” kind of way; but over the next couple of days, it stayed in the back of my mind and often resurfaced. It wasn’t until I was laying in bed last night that the concept I’ve been mulling over became clear; all the positivity, enlightenment and confidence in us was the very cause of all our hurt, disappointment and anger. Hope was a one-way ticket to despair, in all cases. (Not just when it came to Leo).
I’m always seeking for things that I’m interested in or passionate about in the people around me; my family, my friends, mere acquaintances I’ve just met. And while sometimes their disagreement or lack of understanding may present the opportunity for me to delve deeper into my opinions and explain it to them, sometimes their inability to see beauty in things I find mesmerizing conjures a grey cloud above my head. In the past this frustration has caused me to re-evaluate the people in my life, myself, and the world, which filled my mind with dark thoughts. But then I thought about how many times I might have made someone feel like this, how many times I’ve reacted a little less than enthusiastic towards someone’s excitement. It wasn’t my fault that my mind was sculpted differently, just like it wasn’t their fault that theirs were as well. So do we only have our own unrealistic hopes to blame for our disappointment?
Why do I go around looking for myself in those around me? Why do I place such high hopes on the reactions and actions of others? It’s not a need to validate my interests through their agreement or understanding; it’s more of a stubborn “this is amazing, why don’t you find it amazing?” kind of thing. As I grew a tiny bit less impatient and a bit less uptight, I’ve learnt to cope with the fact that people simply have different minds, that it was my fault for presenting others with hope to destroy. And this has saved me from a lot of despair. When you subtract hope from an equation, despair cancels out.
The more I thought about it, the clearer it became to me that hope was the source of hurt. Think about it. That girl crying herself through a breakup, she had high hopes for the relationship. That little boy sulking, he had hoped for a cone of ice cream. Someone bummed out from a bad day, had hopes for it to turn out otherwise. It sounds so simple, so logical, so duh. But imagine if we all carried 0 hope, 0 expectations. To be able to go through life accepting whatever the day brings us. Without hoping for a good day, a bad day wouldn’t be painless, but one would react with “oh okay this is happening” instead of “oh my god why didn’t it turn out this way instead.” It started to sound like being heartless and emotionless was the way to go.
Hope lifts you a little higher in the air, fills you with little lights of excitement, only to let you fall harder and fuse out with more smoke.
So then I considered, should we simply expect the worst from things? Not take the risk of soaring and exploring to avoid the sinking feeling of discovering a little more.. nothing? At some point, this seemed like a convenient and logical choice. And in some ways, I’ve seen myself applying it to areas in my life, where it’s helped me avoid potential hurt and tears. But I think it’s also made me a little more bitter and dull; a little less loving and appreciative. The absence of the little lights of hope made me a bored and unhappy person.
That girl crying herself through a break up – hope pushed her to try the relationship in the first place, and despite the tears, she eventually grew and learnt. That little kid crying about ice cream – the thought of having it alone got him through a tough day of school. Hoping for a good day, well, it may have been someone’s only reason to get out of bed that morning. Hope, has a funny way of giving us strength and power, even before it decides to hurt us or turn into despair.
Now to answer myself, I think we should take the risk of hope.
Because we need it. We need this fuel of emotion that makes those around us feel a little better and the atmosphere a little brighter. We need it to search in order to discover and to work hard in order to achieve. While emotions and feelings may be inconvenient and a threat to complete functionality, the human race may have well stopped at the stone age without it and the world would definitely be a lot duller.
So I guess I’ll continue to be disappointed and meet the familiar face of despair; to have my heart sink from time to time. It’s a personal decision every individual has the privilege to make, and I choose the road with ups and downs because it’s the road where hope is present to ensure I travel forward.