Animated by Hope

Not previously published. Originally written in May of 2023.       +       +       +

“Hope is a choice I make.” —Ronda Piszk Broatch

My favourite word is hope. I love many words for their sound, such as silver and even diarrhea, but I love hope for its meaning, motivation, and exhilaration. While hope needs plans to transform wishes to reality, it also provides buoyancy when you fear that you’re sinking. Hope dwells in possibility, in having dreams, serving as a compass to guide us. For me, hope motivates action, and shifts focus from fear to desire. I used to live in Hope, British Columbia. Years ago, my wife gave me a stone with “hope” chiseled on it, after I mentioned how much I loved the word. The stone sits prominently on a shelf of books, some of which are about hope.

One of my all-time favourite record albums, from 1977, is called Hope. It’s by the Canadian band Klaatu, and the lyrics of the title song’s first verse are these:


Hope is like a lighthouse keeper’s beam.

Hope, the master cobbler of our dreams,

for hope believes in desert streams,

the mightiest of stars,

the microcosm in a jar—

vast or small they all revolve on hope.


The song concludes as follows:


To give hope is to enlighten all mankind.

Ah, but lose hope and life seems black as blind.

When faith gives way to fear,

when motivation disappears,

all is lost if one abandons hope.

All is lost

if one abandons hope.

A favourite quotation on this subject is by Emily Dickinson: “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.” Barbara Kingsolver said, “The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.” Stephen Ambrose said, “The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future.” What’s more, hope can get us going, as Rachel Robards Jackson has said: “Those who are animated by hope can perform what would seem impossibilities to those who are under the depressing influence of fear.”

Consider too these words from Thich Nhat Hanh: “Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” And these thoughts from Helen Keller: “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” And finally, Martin Luther King, Jr.: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

One of my favourite movies, The Shawshank Redemption, despite the harsh conditions of life it depicts behind prison walls, or maybe because of them, is a movie about hope. The main character, Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins), says that “hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies” (see on YouTube). Somewhere in the middle of the movie the two main characters have the following conversation, one that’s just as much about hope as it is about music and beauty:


Andy: That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from you. Haven’t you ever felt that way about music?

Red: I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it though. Didn’t make much sense in here.

Andy: Here’s where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don’t forget.

Red: Forget?

Andy: Forget that there are places in this world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s something inside that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. That’s yours.

Red: What’re you talking about?

Andy: Hope.


And the movie’s final lines (see on YouTube), spoken by Red (played by Morgan Freeman) are these: “I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.” That’s the message the movie leaves us with, to always hope.

Hope is a way to live ones life.