Hope Is for the Future

by Keith Savage · 30 comments

The sun setting on hope

Are you stuck in a rut, immobile from work bleeding into your free time, bereft of a moment’s respite? If so, I think you might find the following passage from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Peace Is Every Step interesting. Maybe even helpful.

Hope is important, because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. But that is the most that hope can do for us – to make some hardship lighter. When I think deeply about the nature of hope, I see something tragic. Since we cling to our hope in the future, we do not focus our energies and capabilities on the present moment… Hope becomes a kind of obstacle. If you can refrain from hoping, you can bring yourself entirely into the present moment and discover the joy that is already here.

Enlightenment, peace, and joy will not be granted by someone else. The well is within us, and if we dig deeply in the present moment, the water will spring forth. We must go back to the present moment in order to be really alive…

Western civilization places so much emphasis on the idea of hope that we sacrifice the present moment. Hope is for the future. It cannot help us discover joy, peace, or enlightenment in the present moment…

As I was reading this the other night, it occurred to me that many of us might be too damn good at hoping. My own situation reflects this clearly. I worked for three years with a nagging sense of dissatisfaction, but I chose to ignore it – to hope it would go away – because everything else about my work was so excellent. The people, the company’s prospects, the campus, the salary, the food.

I even tried a lateral move in the hope it would reignite some passion, some fire inside me. But the hope was actually stunting my growth, deluding me into believing something I knew in my heart wouldn’t change. The moment I came to terms with myself and stopped hoping was the moment the idea for Traveling Savage was conceived.

Has hope ever been an obstacle to you? What should you stop hoping for?

Original photo by Tony the Misfit via Flickr under Creative Commons

Lisa at Wanderlust WomenNo Gravatar October 31, 2010 at 4:10 PM

Hi – just found your website. Not full of the usual I’ve been here and you should go too tips. πŸ™‚
As to hope, expectation, dream, belief, anticipation – are we not playing semantics? Isn’t it all the same thing? Isn’t it better to dwell in the land of optimism than to wallow in a sea of despair or a cubicle of the mundane? Hope exists in the present to allow us to reach for the possibility of tomorrow since nothing is guaranteed. We should never give up hoping – for anything! Keep us thinking!

lydia dsouzaNo Gravatar October 29, 2010 at 3:46 PM

hi Keith, nice post & good blog, i really like your site & bookmarked it. hope you have a nice day & keep blogging!!!

GrayNo Gravatar October 21, 2010 at 1:57 PM

So, so true. I mean, we all need hope in our lives. If we had NO hope we’d just kill ourselves. But it’s definitely true that a lot of us live either too much in the past or too much in the future and not enough in the present. Guilt as charged.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 25, 2010 at 9:07 AM

It’s all about finding the balance, or at least seeing the line where hoping just becomes lazy. I still don’t know where that line, but I’m just happy I made a decision and acted on it.

ayngelinaNo Gravatar October 18, 2010 at 9:06 AM

Totally agree that hoping is a bit dangerous. While I always believe things work out for the best, I also believe that if you want change you need to create it.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 18, 2010 at 4:47 PM

That’s a positive outlook and I try to adhere to it myself. Totally on board with creating your own change.

GuideGecko Singapore TouristNo Gravatar October 18, 2010 at 12:01 AM

I liked the style of your writing. I always browse through your blog Keith. Its another nice blog I read. I agree with you. But there is no one better than you can prophesize your own future. It is true that we get what we believe most. So it is good to hope for the best.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 18, 2010 at 4:42 PM

I think there’s one more required ingredient: action. Hope plays an important role in changing a situation, but you can’t expect whatever it is you’re hoping to happen without owning the responsibility to make it change yourself.

KenNo Gravatar October 17, 2010 at 6:28 AM

Maybe it is hope that is the opiate of the masses.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 17, 2010 at 1:11 PM

It’s just a lot easier to hope than to actually do something.

Christy @ Ordinary TravelerNo Gravatar October 17, 2010 at 12:03 AM

I think hope is what American society teaches us to do. We can hope for a better life, just as long as we don’t actually rebel and make those dreams a reality.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 17, 2010 at 1:12 PM

Oooh, that’s pretty strong Christy. Though I think there’s some truth in that…

KieronNo Gravatar October 16, 2010 at 8:56 PM

I don’t think we could get through life without hopes and dreams for the future. The issue with a lot of people is turning that hope into reality… most of the time it’s not going to happen without a lot of hard work!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 17, 2010 at 2:00 PM

Exactly right. It’s the same with ideas, which makes me think that there’s some level of delivery expected with hope. That things will come easily. But it’s effort and determination that create change, not hope.

SofiaNo Gravatar October 16, 2010 at 8:49 AM

“Western civilization places so much emphasis on the idea of hope that we sacrifice the present moment. Hope is for the future. It cannot help us discover joy, peace, or enlightenment in the present moment…”
I LOVE that quote, I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Instead of hoping for something to happen, expect it to… By changing your thought patterns slightly, you can change the whole outcome. Hope gives space for failure, expectations don’t πŸ™‚

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 17, 2010 at 2:59 PM

Hey Sofia. That makes sense. Above all else, I think it’s about taking responsibility for whatever it is you’re hoping for. If you believe it’s on you to make it happen, well, then you need to get your butt in gear. πŸ™‚

Nomadic ChickNo Gravatar October 16, 2010 at 8:30 AM

Since we both had careers in corporations, hope is something office dwellers cling to. You aptly put it above. We push away our true feelings in the hope that it will improve. I did that everyday for 7 years. I’d like to replace “hope” with “now”.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 17, 2010 at 2:04 PM

I hear ya. I do think it can make sense to hope for a little while, but too often it seems to just run on and on. Understanding when it’s time to cut the cord on hoping is the tough part.

AnthonyNo Gravatar October 16, 2010 at 7:43 AM

I love it and I love it! I’m literally a baby to the travel blog world and right now working out all of the techno parts. As I received this post in my inbox I was writing this in my own post:

“It has come to my attention that being merely “bothered” “or concerned” about something yet not acting on it, is just the same and as useless as being apathetic.”

It’s kind of similar I guess. Do you highly recommend this book then? Keep up the good work and get to Argentina already!!! πŸ™‚

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 17, 2010 at 2:07 PM

Hey Anthony, I do recommend reading Peace Is Every Step. It has a lot of simple, practical life lessons.

I like the quote, and thanks for the encouragement!

AnthonyNo Gravatar October 17, 2010 at 2:54 PM

I’ll have a look for sure! Grrr I am feeling very indecisive choosing a theme for my blog. I feel as if I’m naming my 1st child or something haha.

EricaNo Gravatar October 16, 2010 at 2:08 AM

The only thing I hope for is to win the lottery. <3

I've started to realize I have to work for everything else (which is okay).

Caz MakepeaceNo Gravatar October 16, 2010 at 5:34 PM

Always hoping for that one Erica! Let’s remember each other if we win πŸ™‚

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 17, 2010 at 2:01 PM

Well, I think that’s a decent place to be. πŸ™‚

Caz MakepeaceNo Gravatar October 15, 2010 at 3:59 PM

Thich Naht Hahn is a wise leader to follow, these are beautiful words. I agree completely. Hope takes your focus off what you need to do now. I think that is why travel is so special to me because when I am traveling all I am doing is living in the now and loving it. This is the only place where life is. I have slowly learned in my ‘non-travel’ life to just focus each day on what I need to do now, otherwise my life ends up quite topsy-turvy. I still have my goals and dreams but I work towards them by only doing what is necessary on this day. Thankfully it seems to be working for me and I feel so much more peace and happiness.
Thanks for sharing Keith

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 17, 2010 at 8:42 PM

Hi Caz. It sounds like you might be well-practiced in mindfulness already. I agree that travel helps to keep us in the “now” moment. It could be one of the intangibles that makes travel so appealing, but which we often can’t put our finger on.

CatiaNo Gravatar October 15, 2010 at 2:07 PM

That reminds me of the 2 interpretations of the Pandora’s Box myth that I’ve heard. The first is that at first Pandora opened the box and released the evils. The second time she opened it hope was released (as a gift of balance, implying that hope is purely good). The other interpretation is that hope was the worst of all the evils since it implies waiting without any real action to cause change which is a very dangerous thing for a person / culture / society to do. It causes inaction, stagnation and very often dissatisfaction.

I admit I cringe a little inside when I hear people say ‘you just need to keep hope’ because I see it as a bit dangerous. Hope without working actively to change the future into what you dream and hope for seems a bit like making a wish by tossing a penny in a well.. yeah, we all probably do it, but should we really put faith into it?

I think hope balanced with trying to make a better future is the key. Without hope we probably wouldn’t think about changes we want, without action what we hope for probably won’t happen… it’s a bit of a loop.

And yes, personally I have given up hope on some things, changed what I hope for in many ways and still hold on to hope for others… but I have realised that unless it’s something I can change and that I’m willing to work my tail off to get… it’s just a penny in a well.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 17, 2010 at 8:43 PM

Hey Catia, thanks for sharing that cool Pandora’s Box story – I’d never heard it before. Sage wisdom here, really appreciate the comment!

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