“There comes a time in every man’s life when man looks in the abyss, there’s nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss.”
– Lou Mannheim (said to Bud Fox), in the movie Wall Street
In my last post, I wrote about why I believe in UFOs. Science-fueled arguments aside, the real point of the post was the powerful nature of belief. This human-only construct is how we’ve accomplished so much in our brief time on the planet. Belief underpins almost everything we do, from observing religion to rooting for our favorite sports teams. The latter could easily be confused as delusions of grandeur. Any Philadelphia Eagles fans out there know this all too well. Even so, as powerful as belief is, there’s something else with even greater juice. Hope.
Hope is the fuel for the vehicle we call belief. When we’re full of hope, we move forward in any direction we choose, believing that whatever we set out to accomplish, we will. Hope allows us to believe that we’ll become or do what we want, from finishing school to being a great role model and parent. It gives us limitless belief, which is critical in overcoming the inevitable Everest-like obstacles life tends to toss in our path. Instead of giving up, we look for ways over, through or around an obstacle.
Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter
Without hope, the vehicle either comes to a rest, or never moves. How many times have we heard the expression, “This is hopeless”? I’m willing to bet that in almost every one of those situations, things weren’t truly hopeless. Even Aron Ralston, the hiker and subject of the true story depicted in the movie 127 Hours, never truly lost hope. His tale is harrowing and horrific, but never hopeless.
Losing hope can feel a lot like what Hal Holbrook’s character describes to Charlie Sheen. It’s like careening toward the abyss without the ability to tap the breaks. When we look into the abyss, it’s our indefatigable human spirit, our never say die will, that pulls us back and hardens our resolve.
Adversity reveals and strengthens character. Still, there are times when we need help to find hope through the clouds of despair. Supportive people in our lives can provide that critical tether to help keep us out of the abyss long enough to rebuild hope.
In gamer terms, hope is the ultimate health unit. A little hope goes a long way to restoring belief. Belief moves us to action. By the way, hope is not: “Man, I hope I win the lottery” or “I hope the Eagles beat Dallas”. Those represent a wish. It’s another four-letter word, but doesn’t punch at anywhere near the level of hope, which is the undisputed heavyweight champion.
So what does hope look like? Hope helps us to build our own fortress of solitude when things seem to be crashing down around us and challenging our beliefs. It keeps us going when we might otherwise give up. There are countless quotes that about hope, including Winston Churchill’s famous, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
My personal favorite: “It’s darkest before the dawn.” This tells me, or anyone dealing with challenging circumstances, that when things appear the bleakest, brighter times are just ahead. I like the visual of leaving the darkness behind and moving toward the hope-restoring light of a new day.
Hope is our ally in life. We feel its power in all we do, whether we realize it or not. It shapes our dreams, anchors our beliefs and guides our actions and decision-making. It’s not “The Force”, but it’s damn close.
I “hope” you enjoyed this post or found some meaning in it.