Dharma asked me if I knew the difference between hope and optimism. Difference? I always thought they were the same...interchangeable words. He then went on to explain why they are close in meaning, but not the exactly the same. Each, he said has a place in our life, but they serve different functions. "Optimism can be defined as "being confident of the future or success of something. For example, students with a good education can be optimistic about their future. Hope has a similar meaning but with one big difference. Hope, Dharma explained, means a feeling that something wanted might happen but that we must also work within the context of reality. He used my sick friend as an example, "Tadpole, it wouldn't be realistic to be optimistic about your friend's condition, yet you can be hopeful that it will end well. You see, son, hope is wanting something to happen but realizing that there are external forces that we can't control and being okay with whatever the final outcome is."
Hope, then, gives us permission to accept whatever happens even when we don't realize our personal desire. We know we'll be fine either way. Okay, the light bulb was shining a bit brighter. And I could see, perhaps a little clearer now, what he meant by the frog who has hope has everything. Hope is what is needed to propel us through the troubled times. Without hope, we can't see any light at the end of the tunnel. Hope is what fuels us to get up when we fall down. When the world tells us to "Give up," hope whispers to us, "Try one more time."
After Dharma left, as I was cleaning up the breakfast dishes, I pondered the concept of hope. Did I feel hopeful about life? I think, for the most part I am a very hopeful frog. Sure instances come along that knock us down but in the end it is hope, mixed with a healthy dose of faith, that carries us along and makes getting up each morning a true joy. Alexander Pope reminded us that, "Hope springs eternal." I like to think of hope as the never-ending fountain that quenches our thirst in troubled times. Without hope, there isn't much life.
And with that, I think I'll hop over to see my ill friend. I am feeling much more hopeful for him and I think it's time I paid him a visit and told him so.