There is an odd relationship between hope and despair. They are cousins – close kin – reflections of each other. And knowing how they relate can help you build a brighter future.
Both hope and despair time travel. That is their job. Neither care about the here and now. Neither look to what is. Both imagine a world that could be.
Only they are both focused in different directions. Although both impact the future, only one is completely forward thinking. The other twists the future by looking at the past and building a false vision, which, sadly, has the power to bring that vision into existence.
An Ugly Past
Despair looks to the past to determine the future. It looks at mistakes and fears and misfortune. It looks at everything that can go wrong to expect everything will go wrong.
In the movie After Earth, a man and his son crash land on Earth 1,000 years after humankind escaped the now hostile planet. In order to find help, the wounded man must guide his son over a wireless communicator to a beacon a long distance away. He inspires his son by passing on a truth about fear:
Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity… Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice.
Think about it this way: would you be scared of a bear if you never had any negative association with the furry lumbering animal? Would you be afraid of your boss if all interactions with her were jovial and fun? Would you be concerned about war if all you’ve ever known is peace and kindness? Despair lives off of fear connected to past experiences. It does not predict the future, but rather paralyzes us by replaying our past.
A Wonderful Future
Hope, on the other hand, is all about the future. Hope sees nothing but potential. Hope doesn’t care that you’ve fallen 50 times, it believes the next time you will stand tall.
Hope is when Rocky gets up even after it seems he’s beaten. Hope is when Flik stands up to the grasshoppers in A Bug’s Life even when the odds say it’s folly. Hope is when Jyn Erso leads a ragtag group of heroes in Rogue One to save the rebellion even when the outcome seems bleak. Hope is what changes everyday into extraordinary.
Choose a Direction
So which will you choose today? Which direction do you want to live in? Do you want to peek into the past – the unchangeable, the unforgiving, the immovable, or do you want to jump into the future – the place with wide open spaces unseen, untouched, and inspired?
Why not choose hope? You’ve already been to the past; why not enjoy the future?