Hope Redux

Last Thursday, I posted a blog titled Hope. I wasn't happy with how it turned out and the next morning I deleted it from the blog. I had hoped to re-write it on Friday, but we were in the process of moving and I guess I wasn't feeling very hopeful. Now, a few days later, I'm ready to give this topic another go and hopefully I'll express myself a bit better this time around.

I'm not sure when I gave up on hope, or even why. Who really keeps track of those sorts of things? There was no sudden moment where something happened that destroyed the hope inside me. Instead, it just dissolved until one day, I realized it wasn't there anymore.

It was a friend, who first pointed out that I had lost my hope and that moment has been etched into my mind for over ten years now. The conversation came about when I showed my friend some footage from my Skin Deep DVD that I mentioned in the last post. He watched me ramble on about my film making in this old video and he just casually mentioned, “You had so much hope in your eyes.” The comment took a second to settle in and then I looked at the younger and happier version of me on the television screen and I knew it was true. I had no more hope left in me.

How do you get hope back? I think it's similar to trying to find religion after you've lost it. The experience is entirely familiar, but getting back there is a near impossible feat. The think both finding hope and faith again are so difficult because you've already been there before. You once had it in your grasps but then it broke and you were forced to come to terms with this broken thing inside you. You try so hard to put it back together, but no matter how hard you try gluing it back together just isn't the same. You know how fragile it is and that makes it hard to lean into.

I thought it was fate last week that during a conversation my buddy Alex mentioned a great quote from The Shawshank Redemption.

Like Red in the film, I too was scared of hope. It seemed way too dangerous of thing to deal with. It made people feel invincible in a world where no one was. In my eyes, it was just a way to build you up so that your fall is even harder.

This manifested a variety of ways in my personal life. One of the most noticeable of ways was when planning to do just about anything. For example: if I planned a vacation or a trip to a convention, I automatically assumed it would go terrible or would be cancelled. I never allowed myself permission to get excited because by doing so I felt like I was setting myself up to be crushed. It was just easier to assume the worst and hope for the best.

So, why talk about hope? Well... I found some inspiration for hope in the most ironic of places, the television show Raising Hope. A few weeks ago, I started watching the series on Hulu and I came across an episode where the family decides they have to give up on the small things that offer them hope. For the father, it was a weekly lottery ticket. For the mother, it was hoarding various high end items that the family could fill a bigger home with in the future. For the son, it was constant trips to the grocery store to flirt with the pretty cashier with a boyfriend. They made a pact to each give up these little indulgences and in a typical sitcom fashion it doesn't go so well.

Everyone became irritable and grumpy. The family the show is centered on is a poor family who struggles as is, and taking away these little wishes from their life gave them very little to look forward to. I sat watching and recognizing how real this situation was. What do people have to look forward to if they won't allow their imagination to run a little wild? It's not like the family was putting every dollar into lottery tickets, they just bought one a week and then talked about what they would do with the money. In my eyes, that $52 a year is worth hundreds of dollars more in what the family actually gets from it.

I realized that after spending most of my adult like hopeless, I needed this back in my life. I needed to dream a little. I needed to lead into some crazy ideas that probably won't work out, but it won't hurt trying. This is one of the reasons that I was even open to the idea of making a movie. I knew I couldn't glue my hope back together and pretend like it was the same, but I could grow and cultivate some new hope. It took some time and some self-awareness, but I feel like I planted a seed of hope that I hope will grow into a little bit more. I think my mental health and just life in general could use that. Hope is the depression killer.

And as much as I love Red's quote from The Shawshank Redemption, I think Andy counter it's quite well in his letter to Red at the end of the movie.