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