I was conscious recently that hope had got me into a little trouble.
And I think this is what happened.
(Just in case hope has ever got you into trouble. You know, when you say, ‘That’s the trouble with hope – it’s the feeling of being let down! Better to give up hope completely!’)
Hope is a good thing…I believe so. The idea that however bad things might seem, they can get better.
Sometimes it’s important to know that; that this present state is not the end of the story.
‘This too shall pass’.
St Paul liked the idea so much he placed it in his famous trinity, alongside faith and love.
‘Now faith, hope and love abide; these three.’
So if hope’s so good, why did it get me into trouble?
This is what I’m pondering now, for my own sanity; because I did feel hurt. And all I did was hope, surely?
But maybe there was more to it than that.
Hope is an invigorating emotion, characterised by energy and openness.
These are the calling cards of hope: energy and openness.
So while it is strong, it isn’t specific; hope is open to things being better without prescribing exactly how that will be.
But here’s the rub: my egoic structures can’t really handle that.
They can’t handle that openness, that non-specificity about the future.
So in the hands of my ego, a tragic alchemy occurs; my hope transmutes into something different: it becomes desire.
This occurs without my noticing; but I now have a very different companion within.
Desire is different from hope, a more focused thing, more specific.
It takes the energy, openness and unknowing of hope and turns it into something more manageable, more sensible, more goal-centred.
‘This is what I want to happen,’ is the approach of desire. ‘And anything other than this is not acceptable!’
Strong inner leadership at last!
But all of a sudden, I am very vulnerable.
Oh dear me, yes.
Because when what I want to happen doesn’t happen, I am angry, despairing, frustrated, self-pitying.
This is how I know hope has become desire, for these are its calling cards: anger, despair, frustration, self-pity. And probably cynicism.
The flame of hope burns regardless of outward circumstances; but desire relies on them completely.
Hope does not have particular outcomes in mind; desire is dependent on outcomes.
And if they are not as they should be, then quiet hell breaks loose inside us.
‘Why me!? Bastards! What now?!’
So to return to where I started: I recently got into trouble because of hope; and it happened because hope transmuted into desire…
…and made a fool of me.
It happened without my noticing; but the two are noticeably different.
And now, as I slowly ease the vicious voice of desire from my being, (as one might invite an intruder to leave) I seek instead the deep silence of hope.
There is no silence in desire; but there is in hope.
This dark emptiness contains nothing I can name; and everything I need to proceed.
Can I get there?