What is Hope?

Today is a day characterized by hope for me, and I can’t entirely decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

What is hope? I know that that sounds like such a grand, philosophical question – one of those questions that never really receive an answer, like “what is the meaning of life”, but it’s a question that I often find myself visiting on days like today.

Is it okay to get my hopes up? Or will that only end with me crashing down too hard to make the build worth it? Am I mentally stable enough to entertain an emotion as tricky as hope?

At different times in my life, I’ve given different answers to these questions.

Hope is a terrible thing, I sometimes tell myself. Hope is a tool that cruel people use to string you along.

“I thought you said that we were going to be happy?”

“We still will be,” the devil says with a smile that you can only see through with practice. “Someday.”

Hope is a liar. It makes you believe that something good is going to happen, which is something that life never allows. Hope pulls you up to the greatest heights, just to drop you from them and laugh when you hit the ground.

Thud.

No breath.

Nothing left.

There have been other times, however, where I’ve disagreed with this opinion.

What’s wrong with hope? I wonder at these times.

Hope is what keeps people going.

If we think of all of life as an upward climb, then hope is what keeps you from giving up on it, from settling in and accepting your place. Yes, sometimes you might fall along the way, but hope isn’t the thing that laughs when you hit the ground. Hope is the thing that persuades you to dust yourself off and give it one more go.

Hope is essential. It’s something that I lacked in the days when my depression was at its worst, something that separates who I am now from who I was then.

So maybe I need to hope. Even if it doesn’t work out, even if I fall and break my every bone against the ground, maybe I’ll just have to deal with it then. For now, I just need to make sure that I keep climbing.

Today, I’m hopeful. Today, I’m looking into my future and willing myself to see only the best. I know that it’s at least partly a lie. I know that the grande things hope shows me so rarely coincides with what life has in store for me. But maybe some of it is true. I have to hope for that, at least.

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