When I was newly separated and divorcing with two children at the young age of 34, I decided to get a $40 tattoo in an abandoned building downtown (true story). I had it placed on my right shoulder, mostly because it seemed like a less painful place. It simply reads, “Hope.”
I needed to cling to something. I wanted to feel like the prospect of feeling something better than I was feeling in those moments was etched into my skin. I look at the tattoo now and although it isn’t the prettiest (to say the least), it reminds me of the desperate internal pleas of possibility that I was finally able to feel after a long struggle inside the despair of hopelessness.
I often find that my adherence to an outcome or circumstance redefines hope as being a consequence of a perceived “better” place in time. For example, “If I get married again, then I will be happy,” and I attach all hope to that desired outcome, losing in essence the very definition of hope itself…which is “possibility.”
Hope is uncertain.
It is possibility of many future unknowns.
It is action both fearful and forward towards joy.
Hope is not dependent.
It permeates the darkness and brings light despite circumstance.
It pushes us to prevail through sadness, grief, loss, disappointment and struggle.
Hope is a freshly set of clean sheets and a warm blanket at bedtime. It tucks us in tightly and wraps us in warmth during the darkest of January nights.
It is not a destination; it is a place we have inside our homes that we retreat to, exhausted and worn down.
It is serenity and rest.
I asked a client what she was going to do with her future earlier this month and she responded curiously, “Jenny. I don’t know. I never thought I’d have a future.” I observed her tilt her head to the right, allowing her thoughts to wander to what that may look like.
She did not define it with contingencies. and dreams of partners and castles and careers.
It was a dance in her eyes that implied the untangling of choice and desire that would lead her to actions of joy.
It was the simply the possibility of living, again.
And I knew in that moment, she was going to be okay.