Hope

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Between possibility and reality several concepts shoulder and elbow each other, trying to maintain a continuum, it seems. I have written about expectation, but its sister, hope, knocked on the door as well. Is there a difference? Are they one and the same? Twins maybe? They are both in the waiting period, both of them concerned with a future and a belief… and yet to my eyes they are not of the same realm.

Looks like expectation is formed objectively (even when unrealistic) from our interactions with the others (family, society), while hope is subjective, linked more to our resilience and optimism rather than the choices we face.

And I think we can agree that our hopes and expectations can sometimes be miles apart. Like my younger self realized, when she was supposed to study for university entrance but a pair of blue eyes were somehow more compelling… 🙂

Hope is not always portrayed as positive. Just thinking about Pandora’s box (jar, really!) is quite depressing, notwithstanding her journey from Earth mother to deceiver. Does hope really help, or does it prolong the torment? Norse mythology goes even further and doesn’t even pretend to look at hope as good.

Yet without hope resilience is just a bad joke, the future is random and, let’s face it, the human’s reproduction imperative isn’t nearly on par with other species. But hope, aside from being considered one of the three great virtues, is also stubborn and active. For good or for bad, people have realized that the future is coming towards them like a freight train anyway, so you might as well come on board and check what’s at the next station. It is that realization, combined with a certain talent for manipulating reality, plus a huge degree of consideration for one’s comfort that make hope a fearsome motivator.

Because, let’s face it, it is not with real life details that hope is necessarily concerned. Sure, we can hope for good weather to dry out our clothes, and we can hope for a pay rise to deal with the credit cards, and we can hope to make a good impression on our first date.

But hope has bigger fish to catch, and this comes with a price to pay, in introspection and religion, meditation and principles. We will all die, as we know even without having to think carefully about it. But the death of the body doesn’t scare us nearly as much as it is portrayed (looking at embalming procedures over the centuries, I might have to eat my words!). Beyond reality, beyond knowledge, beyond even belief, hope is humanity’s way to stand up against the annihilation of the spirit.

This, our pride cannot concede.

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Expectation

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Reading back through the last couple of posts, apart from the inherent confusion, one assumption stood clear: choices (and subsequent decisions) appeared to be almost detached, floating untouchables, or in other words, objective, reached through logical elimination of alternatives.

Well, even a two year old given a few choices by her parents could probably intimate that decisions at least are nothing of the kind. They are by default subjective. So what about choices then? They too are subjective, as in they are subject to expectations.

Expectation is an interesting word. It refers to the future, but it implies a wait period, one of those stretches of time between possibility and reality, kinda like the stretch of time between a choice and a decision… maybe they are related?

The choices we contemplate have nothing much to do with logic, even though logic is a very useful tool in contemplating choices, especially difficult ones. Think of the inferences: if this, then that, and if that, then the other thing will happen. That’s as far as I can go with logic, chess is fascinating but not my forte for exactly the same reason. I do enjoy simple logic puzzles and sorites though. But I digress…

As I was saying, the choices we contemplate are not objective, they are subject to expectation, the waiting between our potential and our actual execution. And if it seems to you that these concepts seem to flow one into the other while at the same time remaining different… let’s say that occasionally I get headaches too! 🙂

If by any chance you’ve gone to school, then expectations are something you are familiar with. They get repeated later in the workforce, by the bank and a few other institutions like the justice and revenue departments. Parents are the first ones though to expect things of us. Whether it’s manners, eating our dinner or playing quietly, expectations are usually quite clear. And high!

Now I am very competitive with myself so you could say that high expectations are the rule. And they are, I can’t really do much about it. What I can do something about is figuring out if those expectations are realistic. A lot of the times they are not, what with me being an idealist (the only way is down). I am not sure about it, but I suspect it might be a tad easier for a perfectionist – after all, their only way is up… but is there an end?… hm, maybe I am mistaken and there is no easy way.

What age and experience and lots of experiments have taught me is that expectation is tricky. Low expectations are supposed to be great when you have someone lacking confidence because you have greater chances of them succeeding. Hm, in my experience the pessimism low expectations come with just makes everyone miserable and likely to fail altogether.

High expectations are a bit better if the person can hold them in check. Too high expectation, or too big a difference between potential and action leads to either outright failure or to a breaking of the soul. Messy, nasty and a complete waste of time and energy.

High expectation hovering just slightly above the current ability of a person… ah, that is a wonder to behold, the stretching, the reaching, and, with a bit (ok, a lot) of work, the actual contact… a great feeling… that will give you the strength to try again!