Abandoning Hope

"A wonderful thing happens when you give up on hope, which is that you realize you never needed it in the first place. You realize that giving up on hope didn't kill you. It didn't even make you less effective. In fact, it made you more effective, because you ceased relying on someone or something else to solve your problems -- you ceased hoping your problems would somehow get solved through the magical assistance of God, the Great Mother, the Sierra Club, valiant tree-sitters, brave salmon, or even the Earth itself -- and you just began doing whatever it takes to solve those problems yourself."

~ Derrick Jensen, "Beyond Hope", Orion Magazine, May/June, 2006, as quoted in Sacred Demise by Carolyn Baker


"Hope and fear is a feeling with two sides. As long as there’s one, there’s always the other. This is the root of our pain. In the world of hope and fear, we always have to change the channel, change the temperature, change the music, because something is getting uneasy, something is getting restless, something is beginning to hurt, and we keep looking for alternatives.

In a [meditative] state of mind, abandoning hope is an affirmation, the beginning of the beginning. You could even put “Abandon hope” on your refrigerator door instead of more conventional aspirations like “Every day in every way I’m getting better and better.” 

 ~ Pema Chödron, When Things Fall Apart.

I can't begin to tell you how many times I tried to stop drinking. Tried every method in the book: AA, Antabuse, psychotherapy. I begged my partners to hide their stashes from me. Gallons of booze went down the drain.

Nothing worked. I always ended up drinking again. (Until I stopped. You can read that story here.)

Later, I started a marketing business. Tried to encourage people to buy my services. Blogged. Taught seminars. Begged friends and family to support me.

Nothing worked. My business failed and I got a job.

In the 70's, I realized how close the human species was to wiping itself out. I tried my best to model an environmentally-responsible lifestyle. I didn't have kids. I reused and recycled. I bicycled and walked as much as I could. I bought teeny-tiny, fuel-efficient cars, and drove them sparingly.

Nothing worked. People still drove around in big, gas-guzzling SUVs, threw their plastic bottles in the trash, and had babies

Finally, after decades of being tossed about like a two-by-four on the stormy seas of hope, disappointment, rage, and despair at the world's refusal to bend to my wishes, I heaved a deep sigh and gave up.

It was like ending treatment for a terminally ill patient.

At first, the feelings of hopelessness and despair were nearly debilitating. Now and then I halfheartedly poked at the dead dreams. Maybe this time, that treatment for alcoholism would work. Maybe if I try this, my friends and family will support my business.

At long last, I pulled the plug on hope and let it slip away in peace. It felt like the weight of the world had lifted from my shoulders.

And it was then that I discovered my power.

You see, here's the thing: underneath hope is the fear that things won't work. You anxiously monitor your efforts. "Are the drugs working? Are my latest marketing efforts having any effect? Is anyone being inspired by my conscientiousness?"

You cannot vote enough to change the government. You cannot meditate enough to awaken even one other person. You cannot be conscientious enough to inspire anyone else to follow suit. 

When you finally relax into that truth, it makes your life much easier. Suddenly, you don't have to work so hard. You can simply take care of yourself. You can be decent to others. You can keep your house clean and allow everything else to take care of itself.

"What you are doing is enough. It's enough. It's all you can do, and it's enough. It's all you can do, and it's enough." ~ Abraham-Hicks

Abandon hope. Relax. Have faith.

It'll all work out.

Photo credit: Public domain via freeimages.red

Love this post? I'd be tickled if  you subscribed for a regular dose of my musings. There's a form over to the right. I promise never to sell your email address to anyone, because that's totally obnoxious behavior and I hate it.

Here's a couple more posts you might like:

 How Meditation Helped Me Kick Alcoholism
How Meditation Helped Me Kick Alcoholism

 3 Reasons I Opted Out of Parenthood
3 Reasons I Opted Out of Parenthood

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think? Leave a comment below!