Hope, or living present while giving presents

8 06 2014

-hope-15908It’s been a week. Shootings in Canada, Women hung for living, flogged for breathing, elections going to the right-wing, just a whole bunch of despair-inducing news. So I dither, and distract myself. Drink wine. Laugh too loud. Read the inter webs.

There are only a few wonderful blogs I follow religiously and read every day –  a favourite is Brain Pickings, and after months of finding gems on it, I’ve decided to support it as a subscription. Well worth it.

Today’s posting was on Happiness, and its fleeting nature. Feeling the teensiest bit blue (as I always do of a Sunday afternoon/evening), it spoke to me.

First, a bit from Kierkegaard, about how hope and memory damage happiness –

Consider first the hoping individual. When, as a hoping individual (and of course to that extent unhappy), he is not present to himself, he becomes unhappy in a stricter sense… But if he cannot become present to himself in hope, but loses his hope, hopes again, and so on, then he is absent from himself not just in the present but also in the future, and we have a type of the unhappy…

Similarly if we consider the remembering individual. If he finds himself present in the past, strictly he is not unhappy; but if he cannot do that but remains constantly absent from himself in a past, then we have a form of the unhappy…

Unhappy individuals who hope never have the same pain as those who remember. Hoping individuals always have a more gratifying disappointment. The unhappiest one will always, therefore, be found among the unhappy rememberers.

Whew. It reminds me a bit of Pema Chodron’s exhortation to “Abandon Hope” as then you will not suffer hurt or loss. I’ve always been a Anne of Green Gables gal, though – I’d rather feel the ups and downs of hope and disappointment, the swells of love and hurt, of joy and embarrassment. I can be blue, but I can also be screaming bright yellow. The contrast is nice for me, at least. Maybe I prefer that gratifying disappointment…but I must say, if I hear of one more woman being killed by some radical religious zealot, I am going to explode with grief and anger and horror and hatred.

A more cheerful outlook from Anna Quindlen… (highlights mine)

Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over the dunes, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over a pond and a stand of pines

Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you…

Get a life in which you are generous...And realize that life is glorious, and that you have no business taking it for granted. 

All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough.

Maybe a trip to the beach is in order, to remind me that there are good things, and good people, in the world. To be present, and grateful.

I’ve been lucky to meet a few people who are generous without thinking about it, who give and appreciate and enjoy and love. They are as the stars in the sky, they lighten my life with their beauty.

One day I hope (there’s that word again) to be like them. Right now I’m in a morass of hoping people will just behave like decent human beings. Or animals.

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