Monday, July 9, 2012

In Valor There Is Hope

If life seems jolly rotten, there's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing
When you're feeling in the dumps, don't be silly, chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle, that's the thing
Always look on the bright side of life – Eric Idle

Sometimes the stars align and everything goes your way. You’ve got “everything’s coming up roses” playing in your head and your heart. Other times, not so much. There really is always a silver lining, but it’s not always your silver lining. For instance, someone else in the world needs a new car, so when they get hit by you, oh happy day for that person, and you? You’re the provider of someone’s new car. Sometimes you have to take one for the team. And that’s ok, be a good sport. I went on a date recently, a bad date. My friend, Kim, noted that it might have made him smile and that was the purpose of our brief, and decidedly singular, encounter. True enough, this mans life is a bad country song and maybe a couple of hours of pasta and non-stop talking about himself, with nary a question about me, was exactly the kind of therapy he needed. I took one for the team. And God bless him, seriously, I wish him all the best.

My life is happy. Lately, a piece of my happiness has come from watching situations in the lives of others and determining “that’s a great idea, I think I’ll try that” or “Yikes. I feel bad wiping my forehead with the back of my hand and saying there but for the grace of God go I, but holy hell, there but for the grace of God go I”. Lesson learned, I’m not doing that . . . ever . . . or in some cases ever again. It’s been said that sometimes your purpose in another persons life is simply to serve as a warning. Perhaps not a goal we wish for, but worthwhile nonetheless. Some people serve as a warning, and I thank you for it.

I have decided on a new course in my life, charted a map, and am machete-ing (it’s my blog, I can make up words if I want) that trail. More on that in the next month or two, can’t disclose until it reaches fruition. But I have a plan and focus and I am working toward the goal because . . . I have hope. It’s hope that can make a less than sunny occurrence have a shiny sun spot buried in it. The hope and the belief that even if this current job, date, relationship, race for first place, or batch of homemade cookies bombed, you can keep going on your path, it’s not over. What may seem like a setback can really just be a piece of the puzzle, a learning piece, a metaphorical walking before running. But you have to have hope. Hope can make you stand up again after a fall. Hope can make you date again after the worst date of your life. Hope can make you continue looking for the right job, going to class after a failed test, and baking yet another batch of cookies. Without the possibility, the belief, and hope, why bother? Before something there is nothing, and before nothing there is EVERYTHING . . . all things are possible.

I knew I wanted to write about hope this month. I got as far as the three paragraphs above and hit a wall. I decided to take a break and watch a movie. I had “An Act of Valor” here at the house, just waiting to be watched and returned to Netflix, so that’s what went in the DVD player. I watched the whole thing, felt joy and sorrow and pride and then, at the end of the movie was the statement . . .


I didn’t imagine this was a line made up for the movie so I looked it up. (I have often said the library is one of my favorite inventions, thank you Ben Franklin. The internet on my computer brings the library right into my home at any time of day, thank you Al Gore.) The statement, in valor there is hope, is attributed to Publius Cornelius Tacitus, a senator and historian of the Roman Empire. This statement is most often seen on the tombstones of fallen policemen, but certainly found in other places where heroes have been felled in the line of duty. Valor is to be strong and courageous, most particularly in battle, but also of strong character. Hope is defined as entertaining a wish for something with expectation, to be confident and trust. Hope is what we have at the very base of our beings. Hope gives us the power, the will, the motivation to forge ahead rather than take a back seat and say “meh, whatever”. And I do mean forge ahead. Have you watched or read “The Secret”? I have. I have heard many people say that what they took from it was that all you have to do is mentally transport yourself to Disneyland and wish upon a star, makes no difference where you are, anything your heart desires will come to you. Well, yeah, but you don’t just sit on your ass eating bon bons while millions of Publishers Clearing House dollars rain down on you like manna from PCH heaven. Actually, PCH may work that way, bad example. If you want something, go f-wording get it, but you have to believe and trust and expect and indeed, HOPE, that you will get it. As Julia Cameron notes in her much loved book “The Artists Way”, if you’re going to be late for the bus you must first believe the bus will come, second believe that you can catch the bus, and then . . . RUN LIKE HELL. You don’t just sit on your fat duff waiting for the bus driver to knock at your door.

Hope is valorous, because it does take a metric f*** ton of strength and valor to hope for something that you have not yet attained. And the valor of others, those of us that will sign up to be a Navy Seal and WILLINGLY throw yourself on a grenade to save the lives of many, that persons valor gives hope to us all. (A side note, of all the navy vets I know not one of them was with me watching this movie to answer questions I had. Boo. But I must reiterate, that’s why Al Gore invented the internet).

Hope can change your world. Hope can make the implausible, plausible. I have been guilty in the past of hoping for all manner of things, both tangible and intangible, and in that hope just sitting around waiting for a miracle. Mostly it doesn’t happen. Here and there it does and, at least for me, it’s not nearly as rewarding. I think of the old quote “Give a man a fish and you feed him once. Teach him to fish and you feed him for life.” Does that fit here? Kinda, I guess. Things easily gained are not as rewarding as those things for which we worked, and we would not have ever even fathomed working for said things without hope. Things that you can feel good about and say “Hell yes, that test was hard but I studied and made mince meat of it. Booyah.”

Whatever it is in your life that you want, work for it. Have a plan. Focus. And above all else, be valorous in your hope and believe that you will get it, don’t give up.

"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
― Shel Silverstein