So I was having a conversation with a friend of mine the other day about how difficult this past year has been, and he spoke to me about how nervous he is for the upcoming winter months that lie ahead. Just as we were finishing our chat I mentioned to him that deep down I was tremendously hopeful for the changes that 2021 will bring to our world, and he kind of smirked and said that he loved my sense of optimism. It is true that I am an eternal optimist, probably to a fault, but his comment got me thinking about the idea of hope, and how in my opinion being hopeful is actually very different than simply being optimistic.
The conversation reminded me of a wonderful book that I read a long time ago by Jerome Groopman called the, The Anatomy of Hope, where in one of the chapters he beautifully defines and separates out the meaning of these two words. He writes that, “Hope is one of our central emotions, but we are often at a loss when asked to define it. Many of us confuse hope with optimism, a prevailing attitude that things will turn out for the best. But hope differs from optimism. Hope does not arise from being told to think positively, or from hearing an overly rosy forecast. Hope, unlike optimism, is rooted in unalloyed reality. Although there is no uniform definition of hope, I found one that seemed to capture what my patients had taught me. Hope is the elevating feeling we experience when we see—in the mind’s eye—a path to a better future. Hope acknowledges the significant obstacles and deep pitfalls along that path. True hope has no room for delusion.”
So when I said that I am tremendously hopeful for the changes that 2021 will bring for our world, I said it with the acute awareness that there are some very difficult months that lie ahead, and with the understanding that there are significant challenges and obstacles that we will still have to overcome…yet I remain hopeful, and in my mind’s eye I do see a path to a better future. A little boy said to me on Friday that he can’t wait for things to return to normal, and I know what he meant, but in many ways I don’t want things to return to normal at all. Of course I can’t wait for many of the normal things to return, like hugging for example (I do miss hugging people), but my hope lies in a new normal, a normal that includes a world that is more inclusive and just and kind, a world that is more environmentally friendly, a world that uses the lessons that we’ve learned over the past several months to create a better future for our children, and of course, as an educator, world that finally moves on from it’s outdated and traditional approach to education. I hope for a world that stops taking our earth for granted, and a world that embraces our collective humanity, and a world that is united and connected and a little bit more enlightened…here’s hoping.
Anyway, it is true that I see the world through rose colored glasses, and ultimately that helps me get through some difficult times, but at the heart of it all, it’s deeper than that…it really is about hope, and seeing that path to a better future. Just imagine the beautiful world that will emerge from this crazy 2020..I can’t wait to see what 2021 will bring. Hang in there everyone, only a week and a half left until the holiday, so remember to be great for our students and good to each other. Enjoy this little poem by John Keats and remain hopeful, because hope springs eternal indeed.
John Keats, ‘To Hope’.
When by my solitary hearth I sit,
When no fair dreams before my ‘mind’s eye’ flit,
And the bare heath of life presents no bloom;
Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o’er my head …
Quote of the Week…
Hope springs eternal in the human breast – Alexander Pope
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Holiday Commercial – Sweet
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