Friday, August 5, 2016


What is this nebulous thing we call "hope," and where do we find it?  Throughout history, many great writers and thinkers have chosen to view hope through the cold lens of logic.  Shakespeare suggested that hope exists only because "the miserable have no other medicine."  Nietzsche took it a step further, proclaiming that "hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man's torments." 

I'm inclined, however, to side with those who see the positive side of hope, people like Norman Cousins who recognized that "hope is independent of the apparatus of logic."  Maybe Samuel Johnson came closest to expressing the truth when he observed that "hope itself is a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords . . ."

So how do we find and keep hope?  Hints to the answer can be found in this poem by Czeslaw Milosz, winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize for Literature: 

                                             by Czeslaw Milosz

                            Hope is with you when you believe
                            The earth is not a dream but living flesh,
                            That sight, touch, and hearing do not lie,
                            That all things you have ever seen here
                            Are like a garden looked at from a gate.

                            You cannot enter.  But you're sure it's there.
                            Could we but look more clearly and wisely
                            We might discover somewhere in the garden
                            A strange new flower and an unnamed star.

                            Some people say we should not trust our eyes,
                            That there is nothing, just a seeming,
                            These are the ones who have no hope.
                            They think that the moment we turn away,
                            The world, behind our backs, ceases to exists,
                            As if snatched up by the hands of thieves.


  1. I am blessed, I think, because I have rarely lost hope - even when my connection with it seems a little threadbare.

    Milosz - such a very fine poet.

    Hope is a hummingbird, eternally poised, probing for nectar...

  2. Yes, I think we are both blessed in that way, Robert. To live without hope seems nihilistic to me, and I would find that intolerable. And, yes, I also admire Milosz. And I also love your own metaphor: "Hope is a hummingbird, eternally poised, probing for nectar . . ."

  3. I had little hope.
    That lack of caring to see tomorrow
    overwhelmed my yesterdays.
    I've learned so much, yet so little.
    But hope
    I have found.

  4. PS Wonderful poem, thought, and post!

    1. Thanks for both of your generous comments, Laura. Glad you liked this posting.

  5. If experts were infallible, if logic always led to the expected outcomes, if dire predictions always came true, if every morning were as gloomy as the previous night....then I might give up all hope. But as it is I cheerfully await more surprises.

    1. Well said, John. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

  6. Your photos always stun me with their clarity and beauty, George. I've seen how hope can bring light to darkness. I hope to always have some!

    1. Thanks, Barb. Glad you liked this post. And, yes, always be hopeful!