If Emily Dickinson is right that “hope is a thing with feathers,” it’s a blast-beruffled bird, a puff-ball clamped to a twig, its eyes fixed on distance, some deep gene crying “Survive, survive.”
Hope doesn’t come so naturally to me, but I assure you it’s there, buried as deep.
I remember assuming success, my youthful confidence believing, thinking, speaking, or acting. Everything would be fine, and, if it weren’t, so what? Failure was truly another opportunity. Possibilities cascaded from any risk before me. I didn’t rule the world, but I made laws for my part of it. I anticipated obedience.
Now, not so much. Gather enough experience of mishaps—or just read the newspaper every damn day—and you’re sure to despair. The older I get, the harder optimism becomes. It requires will. My predilection is to collect doomsday scenarios like box tops, each closer to the grand send-away. Perversely, I find myself desiring the thought to end all thoughts, the other side where my mirror self says, “The worst has happened. From here, only hope.”
But Emily still isn’t wrong. Each flip is a new coin, an opening for flight. As long as chance dictates, I might roll yahtzee yet. Humans have to be constructed that way or we wouldn’t bother to eat, sleep, or breathe… and even I see far enough to do that.
Hope is more properly a flame, a trick birthday candle sure to re-ignite, fire impossible to extinguish.