I just got off the phone with a potential client. He was feeling stuck in terms of his work. He’s transitioning from a service oriented job to an investment field. After a bit of exploring his ‘stuck feelings,’ he came to the realization that he’s been so busy learning and preparing for this transition that he hasn’t actually stepped into the actual act of being in his new career. He’s been waiting for that ‘perfect moment’ when he has all the information. That way, if he speaks to a potential employer or client, he has all the information.
The desire to have all the information before we step forward is the equivalent of hoping. We’re all told never to give up hope, hope that something better might come along, but the only power hope gives us is to wait…and to continue to hope…and to wait. What are we waiting for?
We’re waiting for Santa Claus to come down the chimney, for the day of judgement, for prince charming to wake us from our slumber, for the pill or the regimen to make it all better. I am not saying that none of these will happen--except maybe Santa Claus. I am suggesting that hope is no more than a waiting game.
Looking for signs of hope is like walking through an unknown house in the dark. Each step in the dark requires a degree of hope that we will get to where we want to go. We have to grope our way through the darkness and try not to trip. One step in the wrong direction may leave us in peril. So we start looking for signs that we are going in the right or wrong direction. When it feels good, we assume we are heading in the right direction, and when it feels bad, we assume that we are going in the wrong direction. Our prognosticators are our feelings.
The tricky thing about our feelings and our emotions is that they are great reactors and terrible prognosticators. I am not referencing our gut reactions, this is a different topic altogether. However, most of us cannot distinguish our gut reactions from our emotional roller coaster rides. The only thing you can be sure about your emotions is that they are never consistent. And yet when we are at the whim of life’s circumstances, hoping for great things to happen, we use the pleasant feelings to mean that we are on track and we use the painful or negative feelings to mean that we are off track. Frankly speaking, our emotions are a pretty shoddy radar systems.
There is only one method to turn on the lights in this mysterious house of darkness, stop looking for signs of hope. In fact the best methodology I know is to give up hope, altogether. Hope leaves each of us powerless to the circumstances of life. Hope rarely ferries us through the rapids of our lives. Hope cannot nurse us back to health. Hope cannot settle the debt. Hope cannot resolve the conflict we experience with another.
I am not suggesting that we just pull ourselves up by the bootstraps. Instead, I am positing that hope is the unwillingness to take responsibility for how life goes and how it does not go. When we won’t captain our own lives, we are left in the hands of fate, karma, self-help books, rising or falling incomes, pleasant feelings, and unpleasant feelings. When we take on our lives as the opportunity to fulfill commitments, we become the captain and source of all that occurs, we live from a very unusual space.
Our commitments arise out of a very separate space than our need to succeed in life. They arise out of the space of inspiration. When we are committed to something, that something breathes life into us. It regenerates us and continues to regenerate us. It makes life worth living. It brings meaning to our lives. It is our sense of purpose. Our commitments are what drive what we do and what we have in life.
Whether it feels good or doesn’t feel good, living life from our commitments, is a place stand in life that is unique and distinct from that of hope. Living from hope is like waiting to win the lottery. It happens only sometimes. Living life from the commitments that breathe new life into us is no easy task. It requires letting go of Santa Claus. It requires that we profoundly appreciate our responsibility for the way life goes down. In one sense, we stop waiting to win the lottery, for prince charming, for someone else to do it for us. And if we crash, hit another, or are hit by someone, we get to take responsibility for the impact.