A CRITIQUE OF HOPE
I have heard so much talk about hope lately, that I decided to do some serious thinking on the subject, and go beyond the initial feel good reaction that the word inspires. So, I asked myself, what is hope? When do I have hope? What does it do for me?
Obviously, hope is expectation. When I have hope, it means I have reason to believe that something I desire is going to come to me, or some event I desire is going to happen. My expectation may be reasonable, or unreasonable, it may be justified or unjustified. The integrity of one's hope is up to each individual to ascertain. I can hope I get better on guitar, but if I have not gotten any better in 10 years, I may be wise to assess the soundness of my hope. I may want to ask myself why on earth anything would change for the better if I do not start to practice more, or practice better. Without the addition of intelligent effort to my hope, my hope would remain powerless and meaningless.
At what times do we use hope? I can wake up and plan a hike, and say "I hope it doesn't rain"? I say this because, as far as my power over the situation goes, hope is the best I can do. I have absolutely no ability to influence the situation, so I "hope" about it. Hope is what we do when we have no actual power over something. For myself, hope is the last thing I want to rely upon when it comes to achieving my goals. I prefer to have a plan. I prefer to work hard, learn, and take actions that will get me what I want. I have found that the more planning and acting I do, the less hope I need. Since hope is expectation, I find that it takes care of itself when I work for what I want. My expectation becomes reasonable, even probable. So, the word hope doesn't really even enter the equation, it appears by itself when I show up for work.
And that is where I end up about hope. I have no use for it. I don't need the word, really. The reality of hope appears when certain other things are there, it does not need to be, and should not be, sought after and acquired in isolation, as if we were buying a product. But hope is most often sold as a product.
The person who faithfully buys a lottery ticket every week is buying hope. They are buying the feeling of hoping they will win, regardless of the overwhelming odds against them. Hope is the cheapest and easiest thing to sell. I see it all the time. "Buy this course and master the guitar in 7 days"! The reason hope is so easy to sell is because the easiest thing in the world is to convince somebody of something they want to believe, and most people want to believe they can get something for nothing. Most advertising operates on this principle, and con men live by it.
So I can only conclude that hope, taken by itself, is the least important and least useful state of mind to instill in someone. It is only good for a beginning, it will never take you where you want to go. I give students hope. People write to me with their agonizing stories of trying to learn guitar for years, detailing hundreds of lessons and thousands of dollars. They ask me if there is any hope for them. I assure them there is if they put great effort into using my work. I would never instill this hope without at the same time providing the actual path they must walk. The hope by itself means nothing. It will not even give you the energy to do the work and walk the path, only love will do that. Overwhelming desire, and the effort it inspires, bring us what we want, not hope. Hope is the lazy man's action. When hope is all you have, you have very little.
So there are my thoughts on hope, I find it a very limited and overrated concept. I recommend facing the challenges of life with great honesty, desire and effort, and when the times come when hope is needed, you'll find your basket already quite full.