Thursday, January 05, 2017

Hope is the thing with feathers

I have to admit that I've never really understood that line. It's been explained to me more than once by admirers of Emily Dickinson, but it just doesn't click. My inability to fathom hope in this sense might be due to my non-Christian upbringing. I was never taught that the best is yet to come (in the form of a heavenly future) and therefore, perhaps, I've never been particularly hopeful. In fact, my mother always told me not to count on something good happening; that way you will never be disappointed. Like Woody Allen, I comfort myself with the knowledge that things could be worse, a dismal thought when everything already seems so bad.

I know, I know we should focus on the moment, the little thing that makes us smile, that greets us at the end of the day...blah...blah....blah. But seriously, are you hopeful?

12 comments:

  1. Yes, I'm utterly hopeful.
    And LOVE Emily Dickinson.
    Not being raised a Christian by the book (though of course you can't study literature without a few glances into the Bible) I always explained (which of course is pure nonsense, or an oxymoron, because it is not only intellect but heart too, in poetry) those lines to me thus: I see a bright tiny bird, which is hope, tender and in need to be protected - and when I see this I feel as light as a bird when I hope (and not torn down). And that's all (to me), nothing in heaven, just on earth. But: delightful.

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    1. I envy you your hopefulness. I try to claim momentary present delight when I can.

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  2. To me hope is the idea that the universe is nearly 15 billion years old and after all this long time I'm still here, and at the moment relatively unscathed. I aim to stay around for the next 15 billion years. In other words there is more mystery to life than merely the present existence.

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    1. I do like your perspective, Gwil, but I rarely manage to maintain it myself. Can you really be satisfied with the long (long, long) view?

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    2. Shawn, It's not long really because all the time you're only aware of the space-time dimension you are in. My mother 96 says she's looking forward to the next great adventure. That's how I see it too.

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  3. I do love that quote! One of my two favs. The other is by Robert Frost.
    Brenda

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Brenda. Which Frost quote do you favor?

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    2. Poking his nose in ;) - I bet it's the one about two paths.

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  4. Unless it all falls in about our shoulders, I am hopeful that my voice, my action encourages Brigitta's little bird to take flight.

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  5. I wonder if our parents were related. That was the constant refrain when I was growing up when I would get excited or hopeful about something. "Why aren't you excited for me?" I'd whine. My parents would say, "We just don't want you to be disappointed." Somehow I maintained a sometimes hopeful demeanor despite that. Now, I can be depressingly reality based and nauseatingly hopeful. Obviously they had their effect. "We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

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    1. I'm guessing it's an Eastern European Jewish thing. Those people knew it could always get worse because it usually did.

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