The Shawshank Question

Is hope a good thing?

It keeps you going through uncertain times, but that uncertainty can drive you insane.

So is it better to be hopeless? To know there is no chance, but to be certain about it?

I’m not sure, but having experienced both in close proximity to one another, I have to say that I miss having hope.

Hope is like a candle when you’re without electricity. Even when everything else is shrouded in darkness, there’s always that little flicker. The hope that some day, just maybe, things will brighten. Things will be OK. It comforts and consoles you.

And your imagination — being the absurdly powerful thing that it is — can take that little flicker and stoke it until it becomes a roaring fire filled with dreams and possibilities and a future that’s so good you can’t possibly envision anything else. How can something that good not come true?

I don’t know why, but it can.

Hopelessness means that the thing you were clinging to, protecting, nurturing, has vanished. There’s a void in your heart where it used to live. And it’s agonizing, especially if you’ve been holding onto it for a long time and have given it your complete confidence.

What makes hope insidious is that it can hinder you from achieving other things. If you’re busy holding on over here, you’ll miss what’s going on over there. And I know — you don’t want what’s over there. That’s natural as long as the hope for what’s over here exists.

Perhaps the realization of hope is inevitable. Eventually, it’s either going to come true or be crushed. Maybe it’s better to rip the bandage off quickly.

The only way to survive hope’s demise is to think of it in the context of freedom. Hope — like expectations — attaches you to an outcome. When that outcome doesn’t come true, your attachment to a thing is severed, and it hurts like hell.

But the pain will subside. Every passing moment brings you a little bit closer to being OK. Once the wounds heal, we are free to move forward. And as we move forward, we come closer to arriving at the next big thing. And — hopefully — the next big thing will be a sure thing.