Emily Dickinson identified hope as withstanding the “chillest land” in her stalwart poem, “Hope is the thing with feathers.” In other words, the sun never sets on hope because hope has possibilities for a new day.
Environmentalist Jane Goodall and co-author Douglas Abrams wrote The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times (NY: Celadon Books, 2021). Jane does not wear rose-colored glasses (or pearls) but she does deliver pearls of hope. There are 4 reasons for hope outlined: the amazing human intellect, nature’s resiliency, the power of young people, and an indomitable human spirit.
Goodall emphasizes that “real hope” requires action! Think of hope this way–when you take on hopeful actions, you create a domino effect because hope has contagious possibilities. When you choose your domino, you set up possibilities for another’s domino. We actually need a healthy contagion of positive domino action with yet another COVID variant circling the planet. Hope activities come in many forms.
Here is part of a much larger conversation between Jane Goodall and Doug Abrams:
Jane: “Hope is what enables us to keep going in the face of adversity. It is what we desire to happen, but we must be prepared to work hard to make it so…You won’t be active unless you hope that your action is going to do some good. So you need hope to get you going, but then by taking action, you generate more hope. It’s a circular thing.”
Doug: “Do animals have hope?”
Jane: “Chimps will often throw a tantrum when they don’t get what they want. That is some form of frustrated hope.”
Doug: “Is hope an emotion?”
Jane: “No…it’s an aspect of our survival…it’s not a skill. It’s something more innate, more profound. It’s almost a gift…it is a human survival trait and without it we perish.”
You might guess that Jane’s “gift” metaphor might make me think of pearls. A pearl is a gift from the sea, parented by an oyster or mussel shell due to an irritant (or parasite) entering the innocent shell. Like the COVID irritant, the shell may be “taken” by surprise, but it immediately gets down to business–layering a fluid on top of the irritant. People have the ability to layer on protective measures when irritants appear too. Vincent Van Gogh explains a version of hope: “The heart of man [or woman or child] is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths, it has its pearls too.”
Not every shell produces a pearl. But pearls-of-hope actions are a possibility. Whether we are battling COVID or any other life-storm, if we realize our indomitable human talents together as the human race, we can find pearls of hope.
Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz:
36. What life irritants are you dealing with today?
37. How do you find hope in the depths of your challenges?