This I Believe

Charles - Kyle, Texas
Entered on February 6, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: hope

God’s worst curse has nothing to do with Adam, and nothing to do with sin. It is not associated with evil, nor is it mentioned in Revelations, Psalms or Song of Solomon. Like God, it is eternal (or springs eternal, as some might [and have] said]). The worst curse of heaven is hope.

I drive to work each day knowing my schedule and obstacles well in advance. I am a public high school teacher in the state of Texas. Because I teach, and because I am, let’s say “somewhat” older than my students, I can say with absolute certainty that I am facing little groups of children living lives I cannot entirely fathom. I can believe otherwise, through the delusion of hope, that I am doing some good in the world. I can believe, while at the same time knowing that all good can be undone, by apathy, by violence, by a thousand forces in assault. Teaching is all about hope. It is therefore infuriating and insidious.

But here’s a better example. I had this dog once, who had earned a huge gash in his leg thanks to constant forays across the street, vain attempts to bypass a dog twice his size toward a female in estrus. The gash in the leg followed hard on a gash in the head, giving him a matched set of mislocated wounds. He had to be locked up at night, and leashed in the yard so he wouldn’t try to hurt himself (yet again). Being caged up so close to his goal must’ve tormented him. I recall him moaning softly, pent up by restraint, urged by longing. By morning, he had chewed the leash, chewed through the makeshift bandage on his leg, and had desperately bolted through the gate for another beating. He reminded me of myself going to work.

We confirm what drives the rain. We have an idea what drives salmon and birds to their special places. But we have no idea what drives hope in us. Is it some form of obscene rationalization? Is it a genetic marker? Will research reveal and rid us of it? If we could bottle it, would we do with it? Sell it like ecstasy?

The quality of hope is beyond the ephemeral nature of truth, life or death. The first is found occasionally, in secure moments supported by the elements and state of mind. The second is thrust upon you. The third is inevitable.

In between all that is hope. Like truth, it must be supported. By others perhaps. By transitions from one state to the next. By morning. By moonlight. Something must prop it up, ever so delicately, like slivers of threads just taut. In between times, we suffer, standing at the root of a rainbow, knowing we can only skim the surface of its light and airy dream. We hope, so we all, all of us, all the time, stand at the edge of light, watching it spread and stray off into infinity.