Holding Onto Hope, and Letting Hope Go
With spring comes relief and a sense of renewal. If you’re not in that energy yet, allow nature to guide you. Feel the flowers beginning to blossom and bud. Admire the sheer force and the commitment of the plants pushing through the semi-frozen earth.
Let yourself feel hopeful. Hope can feel like life. Like aliveness. Like a willingness to dream. Like wonder. Like majesty. Like icecream on a summer day.
But here’s what hope is not (at least for me). Hope can be terrifying when we invest too much hope into a particular outcome. Then hope feels too scary to commit to, and too difficult to sustain, because that kind of “hope” becomes a wild clinging with too great a cost.
This kind of secretive wish-fulfillment hope feels, to me, like trying to push the river. To redirect the current, rather than going with whatever life offers us and saying YES to being completely alive.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t want anything. I want things all the time. But this secretive clinging, hoping, hoping for a particular outcome/thing can cause us to not be open and aware when something wonderful (but maybe unexpected) comes our way.
I’ve been watering these little baby seedlings for weeks now, and for so long I kept watering the few that simply did not sprout. Instead of 4 tomato starts (which was admittedly too many to fit in our back garden anyways) I have 3. And instead of 4 cauliflower babies, I ended up with 3.
I am not actually very “good” at gardening. (Which means I have a lot more to learn, and that’s ok.) I become a little more competent with every season, but results take time, and gardens are ecosystems with their own needs. I am honestly always completely ECSTATIC when anything that I plant has the audacity and insight to actually come to fruition in my little backyard.
This might seem like ridiculously low standards, but I see myself as the attendant of my garden, not so much the architect. I’m willing to go with what seems most workable for the conditions I have (light, soil, temperature, etc) and to let go of what doesn’t work as well.
For weeks I continued watering the little pots where seeds did not decide to sprout. It didn’t cost me much to water and to wait, but eventually I realized that the other tomatoes were looking like full grown starts and it was incredibly unlikely that the little baby seeds that didn’t even poke to the surface were suddenly going to come into being and catch up.
So then I stopped. I was a little sad, even though, again, there was no way I was going to actually fit that many tomato plants into my backyard. But I’m also ok with this loss.
It’s good to adapt and move on.
Life offers us so many treasures but sometimes we fail to see them. In this case the gift was that I have three tomato plants ready for the ground later in the season.
It’s good to have hope and it’s good to let go when conditions change.
May you find yourself filled with the radiance of light this spring.
PS: Here’s an Emily Dickinson poem about hope and the wild, wondrous quality of that unbridled joyful hope that refuses to cling.