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Hope vs. Despair

Yesterday morning I got up and did a morning write. What came to me in those early hours, less than a week before the presidential election, was how I long to keep hope alive. I meditate often these days. At the end of my stillness, I ask myself, "what is it you long for today?" Almost always, the answer is hope. I want to keep that energy alive in my body because the opposite, despair, is on the other side, pulling me steadily into that dark, heavy cave. 


Hope feels like warm water all over, a calm steadiness in my chest and belly with a very slight flutter just around my heart. I feel peaceful in hope, filled with color and the promise of possibility. In despair, my chest tightens and it feels like there is a vice around my lungs; I can't get a deep breath. There's gray everywhere and my imagination disappears.

I spend my days moving between these two big feelings-- hope and despair. I prefer hope but no matter how I try, I can't banish despair. It's too strong. It wants to be heard too.


When I think about the election, I want to bring hope to the process, to the outcome, but as soon as I lean into that feeling--the awesomeness of changing this administration, of saving our earth and our humanity--there is despair, that dark smokey ghost looming right at the edges of my shiny yellow hope. It reminds me that it's okay to have hope, but I must also make room for despair--the possibility of my longing not being met, of this current administration prevailing.


I imagine there are a lot of people in this situation right now. We are worried and hopeful and scared and excited. I believe in the power of energy and the power of the people. I believe that our intentions matter. I believe that the energy behind making phone calls and writing letters to Texas and North Carolina (even if the letters are never opened or the phones are never answered) makes a difference. These things help keep my hope alive. People like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar give me hope. Watching the twentieth hurricane this year hit New Orleans and the fires continuing to burn in Southern California gives me despair. 


Hope and despair. Both are real. Both are here. What I understand a little bit better from spending time with both of these emotions is that they are working together. The presence of each allows me to know the other. And, though I don't want to feel despair, when it shows up it is sending me a message. It is telling me is that I am strong enough to hold that feeling too, even if I don't want to. I must make friends with despair, to welcome it in the way I welcome hope. When I do this, when I close my eyes and let despair settle in without the struggle, I can feel it starting to quiet down. I'm not fighting it, not pushing it away. And after a while of letting despair be there, just like a mother sneaking away from her young daughter's crib after finally getting her to sleep, despair tip-toes out of the room. And hope comes back.  

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