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August 26th, 2020
Hope is generally regarded as a good thing. But is it? Hope is what draws us forward. The hope for accomplishment, the hope for love, the hope for peace, the hope for a better future.
But do these things not denigrate our assessment of the present by default?
Doesn’t a claim that tomorrow could and should be better imply that the present moment is somehow… bad?
Hope, as a concept is detrimental in the same way the notion of having a passion is detrimental. These concepts isolate us from the moment and lend us to fall victim to wishful thinking. By hoping for a better future, we can miss what we’ve actually got, in terms of the present moment that is ripe for peace and contentment, and in terms of seeing clearly the raw materials we have to work with.
Hope is a dream world that offers the possibility of forming impossible ideals that we cannot live up to and which may simply not be possible in the real world. How could the danger of such a thing be so subtle and understated. How is it not obvious that hope can be a sly enemy?
The answer lies in the capacity of a dream world to make us feel a certain way. It’s nice to imagine it, because in imagination, a thing can be flawless. In imagination, things can be devoid of reality, and that escapism can be intoxicating for someone who has not yet seen a beneficial way of using the raw materials that their life currently offers in new ways.
For an individual who seeks to accomplish something that really is new, hope is a dangerous concept that should be regarded as null. Think about it this way, what would your life look like, and how would you approach your current work and projects if hope wasn’t a concept in your brain. This isn’t to say that your life is hopeless - not at all. But that hope and failing to have hope are both absent from your life. How would that change things?
Or approach it from the reverse. What happens when outcome turns out to be different than what we hope? Disappointment ensues. Hope is the sly mother of expectation, and expectation is the sole alchemist of disappointment. In the absence of expectation, it’s just not possible to be disappointed with how things turn out. The outcome is merely more information about this world and reality that you are exploring. Hope is actually, completely unnecessary for moving forward toward a better life. There is instead an unexpected nemesis of hope which lives quietly within all of us, one that has on hand infinite reserves of liquid oxygen to pour into the fuel tank of our life, one that is easily ignored, one with a quiet voice, one that is powerful but lacks the need to be judgemental, one that is drawn forward - not by hope - but by a genuine interest in the unknown:
That ally is curiosity.
Consider for a moment how an immersion in a thread of curiosity resolves the conundrum of enjoying the present and shooting for a better life: when curiosity is at the helm of our attention, we experience a strange amalgam of interest, desire and peace. Paradoxically, the curious mind is totally satisfied with the process of the moment but still moves forward, making progress, adding to the moment while eschewing all need to compare it to anything better.
Forget things like hope, and passion, expectation, and desire. All of these feelings and concepts fail us, tugging us down nefarious rabbit holes of emotion.
All of these inadequate concepts and emotions, their functions, their inequities, all of them are subsumed by the synergy of the curious mind. The curious mind is thrilled not just by the expected outcome, but also the unexpected outcome. The curious mind wonders what might exist in the realm of tomorrow while evoking a serene experience of the moment.
It may be strange to try and imagine a world without a need for hope, but you need only ask: are you curious to see what it’s like to move forward without a need to hope?