After reading about Brexit and the insects and all that, I was feeling pretty lacking in hope.
So on Wednesday night at the Circle of Curious Complexity face-to-face meetup, we started a month of exploring hope and what it is. (The Circle is free and open to everyone with their feet on the ground and their eye on the horizon. The physical meetups are in Birmingham, UK, but you can participate online by writing or creating on the monthly theme - tag me in! - or just using the theme to reflect.)
After each person checked in with their mood and reason for coming (obvs!), I placed a card with ‘HOPE’ written on it and we stood in the room where our body wanted to place ourselves in connection with it. (Thanks to my pal Rachel Donath for introducing me to the the world of embodied learning - finding out what our bodies know that our minds don’t. We added this after an experiment last month with time.)
Two people stood quite close to the card - one on the left, indicating their politics - and said that hope was present for them, and that it was what gets them out of bed. Another person sat far away and a bit sideways on: ‘I know hope is over there and I see it, but I’m not very close to it’.
I stood as far as I could get and kind of squinted at hope in suspicion. At least I didn’t turn my back or walk out of the room, I suppose…
We then gathered and, in true #CircleofCC style, wrote questions that might help us to explore our relationship with hope.
20 Questions to explore your relationship with hope
Is hope the same as desire?
Is hope always in the future?
What links hope and faith/trust?
What’s the difference between hope and belief? If I’m in a hole and someone jumps in to help me, do I hope they can help or do I want to believe they can help?
How do we hope in the face of enormity and overwhelm?
Does hope need to be based on something concrete?
If hope were to go missing, how you salvage your relationship?
Do you carry hope, and how much does it weigh?
Are there different levels of hope?
Is it more meaningful/useful to think about purpose?
How do we take action when we are hopeless?
What is the opposite of hope?
Is hope created from intentions?
What or who personifies hope for you? If how were a mythical character/theme what would it be?
Is hope just a feeling?
What are you expecting hope to do for you?
Why do we need hope?
Where has hope been in your life?
Does someone else’s relationship with hope change yours?
If I wish really really hard, where does it become hope?
We did not talk about all these questions but even laying some of them out on the table helped us to map what hope is for us.
Hope is a flimsy basis for action
The main dingdingding for me was realising that, in a way, hope is just a feeling, which makes it kind of a flimsy basis for continuing action. If I can’t take action when I feel devoid of hope, then the change I want to see in the world definitely won’t happen.
It’s maybe more beneficial to think about purpose or meaning. Yes, it’s important to focus partially on ‘What change do I want to see in the world?’ but also ‘What kind of person do I want to be in times of crisis? What am I actually here for?’
Weirdly, ignoring whether something seems likely or not (one basis for the feeling of ‘hope’) means I’m more able to take action which, paradoxically, may make the outcome more probable. See what I mean?
We also discussed how infectious hope or hopelessness is - and how maybe we should talk more about where we are hopeful.
At the end of the meetup, I stood nearer to hope, but kind of side-on to it. I see hope as a bit of a red herring, now. Something that’s far too ephemeral and out of our control to focus on. Purpose/meaning/being seems more robust.
Of course, this has left me feeling more hopeful than I have for months.