I took a quiz recently to test my Bible knowledge. I used to be a bona fide college campus ministry staff worker. I studied my Bible…religiously. So, I wondered how much I’d retained after having dropped the Christian label six years ago. I got one question wrong: “In a list of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit, which one is NOT in the basket? Kindness, Peace, Forbearance, or Hope?” Turns out it’s Hope.

“Hope is a mannequin. Love is a battlefield,” sings Bobby McFerrin’s voice in my head.

Hope is a deceitful kind of thing. It sounds like a marvelous, Puritanical virtue. I think it’s a slippery slope. Hope is passive. “I hope it won’t rain.” There’s nothing you can really do about it, one way or the other. You’re stating a wish, a sort of desire or thought without any teeth. “I hope my insurance will cover this.” You’re placing the burden of responsibility or action on something, someone other than yourself. “I hope in the future.” You’re making present moment decisions while not being present in the moment.

On the other hand, I think Will has gotten a bum rap, as in “the willful child”, “not my Will but Yours be done”, “keep your servant from willful sins”, etc. I much prefer Ralph Waldo Emerson preaching Self-Reliance to that doctrinal negation of determination. I think it’s important to know what you want, what you like and why. At the same time, I think it’s very important not to get attached to those things. Some people will defend their desires because they feel that their identities are shaped by them, and they want them to be. In a Universe of impermanence, that can be problematic. What if the thing you desire is altogether unattainable? Or even unapproachable? Your identity becomes “the person who is not going to get what they want – ever”. Sounds like a life of frustration and suffering to me.

To be able to say that I think this thing is good, that I want to use my energy and resources to practice and promote this thing, while I acknowledge that much of the success of this thing remains out of my control, is Self-Reliance. Furthermore, I no longer believe that the success of this thing is in the control of a supernatural power. And I’m OK with that. I don’t need to have a guarantee that this thing will succeed eventually in order for me to feel my efforts are worthwhile. I can have a moral conviction of the value of this thing without supernatural endorsement.

cross

I suppose I should mention that my philosophical transformation began after my husband died. My identity was shaken. I lost Faith; I lost Hope. “How very sad!” I hear you cry. Let me add that I was then asked repeatedly by a dear friend, “What do you want?” “Who do you want to be?” and I eventually found myself. I became aware of delusions and habits of thought that I’d never examined before. I discovered my will, my values, my feelings and my ability to accept change, adapt, and practice living gracefully and gratefully. I know good things intuitively, and I have learned that I am trustworthy.

And I believe that everyone else could say the same. See, I do believe in something.

Text and photograph © Priscilla Galasso, 2016. All rights reserved; you can read Piscilla’s bio HERE.

12 thoughts on “Dream What You Will and Will What You Dream

  1. I am wondering how privilege plays into this. And also why hope is passive. Can it be cooperative? A kind of agreement between myself and the future? I am working hard for “X” because I hope “Y” will be the result?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Terri, I think I would call that action of working hard toward a result ‘will’ rather than ‘hope’. The determination gives it a different character. People who practice determination may be privileged. People who have never had an opportunity to work toward something and see results are perhaps resigned to hope as it’s the only avenue left. Suddenly, I’m thinking of slaves singing about Beulah Land. But then, I see that hope as a sad alternative to having will and dignity. So much to ponder in that…..

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There is a lot to ponder! I have an antagonistic relationship to the word will because we often say “will power.” “You can beat this [insert bad thing here] if you have enough willpower!”

        What I know is that willpower isn’t enough for many people. It leaves out communal responsibility.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Ah. See, all these concepts have so many associations, we never start on the same page. Only lengthy discussions will bring us closer together, and sadly, we seldom allow time for that, so misunderstanding becomes the status quo.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Well penned, ‘Scilla. I admire that you can so confidently sum up things that I can’t figure out how to explain (like how hope is not always a good thing). I, too, lost my Faith and Hope after my brother died. The journey to self-peace from that kind of life-changing trauma is long and difficult. You have my utmost sympathy and respect for coming out the other side so centered.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Corina. Interestingly, I first delved into Faith and Hope after my sister was killed in a car accident; I was her only passenger. I was 17. Hope & Faith were a way to live out what I wanted to be true, a consolation. 28 years later, I felt that mindset was wishful thinking, but not very real. I felt strong enough to face the real deal without consolation and that it wouldn’t annihilate me. That’s a short summary – the experiences were much more groping and complex. My pen is way more confident than I am! Maybe that just shows how I protect my vulnerability. And I struggle to write poetry because of it…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mostly, I was thinking of hope and how it deceives us—that we hang on to expectations and hopes and feel let down when they fail us, as they often do. Paul Simon: “Hang on to your hopes, my friend./ That’s an easy thing to say/ but if your hopes should pass away/ simply pretend/ that you can build them again” (A Hazy Shade of Winter)

        Liked by 2 people

Discussion is welcome! Thank you ...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s