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Hope and Fear

Posted Jan 16 2009 3:40am

Some good friends, all met through blogging, are filling in for me while I take a two-week sabbatical from Time Goes By. Today’s guest blogger is Kate Winner of KateThoughts who says she is a product of her time, her family, her religious history, her (often much older) friends, and her varied, and not always traditional education.

She thinks she knows all about the School of Hard Knocks, says Kate, but her life has been pretty easy. She has written and/or “journaled” for years, and began blogging back in the days when she was creating a coaching business. Now she blogs for fun, for clarity of mind, and for exploring the ideas that sprout from the writings of others.


Lately, there has been a lot of stuff about hope and heart and resolutions, about change and pulling together, and about bailouts and bunglers. Some of it is seasonal, some is political and economic. All of it has to do with, and can be affected by our consciousness, both individually and collectively.

Most people I know are fearful these days. Me too. Often.

But fear works directly against me, I think. So does hope.

Consider hope as a word. According to the Free Dictionary, it always points to the future. It means,

  • to look forward to with confidence or expectation
  • ...theological virtue defined as the desire and search for a future good...

Pema Chödrön, in her book called When Things Fall Apart, has this to say:

"Hope and fear is a feeling with two sides. As long as there's one, there's always the other…In the world of hope and fear, we always have to change the channel, change the temperature, change the music, because something is getting uneasy, something is getting restless, something is beginning to hurt, and we keep looking for alternatives."

She goes on to say,

"Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty. We can't simply relax with ourselves. We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment."

So, if we abandon hope and its partner fear, what is left to us? I think it is mindfulness; an opportunity to be fully present with ourselves – right now – in a way that can clear up the turmoil we feel when we focus on the current economic news, for example. Those of you who meditate may understand this better than I or be able to articulate it better.

I believe that all, literally ALL, is rocking along exactly as it should. I can imagine that everything that has and is happening is doing so in order for me to get just exactly the right lessons to move me forward on the path I've chosen. I believe that is true for us as a nation, too.

We got here by the actions that we took, the decisions we made. Collectively, of course. The fact that I didn't vote for Bush didn't stop him from being my president. It means to me that, collectively, We the People chose him. So my job now is to learn from the experience and determine what my next step(s) will be.

I learned to count worth in terms of dollars. Most of us did. And that has led us to a culture that builds in obsolescence. Things must get old and worn out, so we can buy a new one - a better one - one that comes with everything! If we don't, the economy will falter and people will lose jobs and it will all be my fault.

What does this have to do with aging?

Is it any wonder that people become obsolete, too? That ”old” in our culture starts at about 30 or 35, and that we “should” all die, or at least have the grace to stay out of sight with our mouths shut?

What am I to do about that? What is most important for me to consider now, at age 61-and-a-half?

I can be clear. I can be present. I can NOT play the “ain't it awful” game with my neighbor. I can choose to see that right now I have the best opportunity to reconsider how I live and what I model for others.

I'm learning more about recycling; I'm considering what I really need rather than continuing that sort of knee-jerk shopping that I used to do so thoughtlessly. I can start a discussion about the future here, and with my friends and neighbors. I can imagine a new and different country. Yes, we need some economic recovery. And don't we also need a new and different ethic and a little less fear?

I strongly believe that the words we use and the thoughts we think all have an energy of their own that has a part in creating the world in which we live. So, I must choose my words and actions carefully and imagine that someone is watching; someone who will learn from me about how to be.

This, I believe, is a part of my purpose for being here and a big part of my legacy for the future; my job, if you will. I believe it applies to all of us. It is in these things that our present happiness resides. If we attend to these now, the future will take care of itself, and us.

[ The story bin at The Elder Storytelling Place is empty so until some new ones arrive, let's revisit some from the archive. Today, The Man Who Thought He Was a Train from Susan Fisher. All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. Instructions are here. ]

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