Friday, June 17, 2011

About Hope

This is an extension of last week’s text on optimism. According to my dictionary one definition of hope is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen”. For optimism we get “hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something”. Pretty close, don’t you think?

Personally, and the advice I tend to give to my children (over and over again) is expect the best, prepare for the worst. Of course, that’s hard to do. Most of us slip from one mode to the other according to our mood of the day or to repercussions from recent experience. Surely we feel better when hope and optimism reign. And, as I mentioned last week, what risks could we venture into without the hope of a favorable outcome? And, let’s face it, no risks would make for a dull life.

Every time I prepare for an exhibition or plan an open studio, I need to arm myself with the expectation of success in the form of lots of visitors, a lot of appreciation for the work and sales enough to make it possible for me to go on painting. It hasn’t always come together like that with all the elements in place. Several times during this history I have taken part-time jobs, and a few times have been bailed out by the family. Mostly, though, it has been a fairly smooth ride, with occasional bouts of anxiety. But obviously, since I am still at it, that irrational optimism about the future kicks in and the march continues. I guess that’s the reason for writing again on the subject. It’s the optimism based on nothing more than the desire to have this life, that has fueled the walk. I need to keep it operating.

Even writing this essay requires optimism, or maybe in this instance it’s more like faith. When I start writing with nothing more than a sentence in mind, I need to believe I will come up with something I can maintain my own interest in. If I don’t get involved, I surely won’t engage my readers. And miraculously, this old brain heats up and takes over. After a number of repetitions the confidence is born. The truth is that without that confidence, or hope, or optimism, or expectation or maybe just plain thoughtless plunging ahead, nothing would be created that wasn’t done before. Who would pick up pen or brush or camera or test tube if there was no hope? Who would buy a lottery ticket and fantasize about the studio she would design? How silly would that be?

Winston Churchill: For myself I am an optimist — it does not seem to be much use being anything else.

The image above is from the August Quintet, ©2011, archival inks on acid-free Epson paper, size varies. For information or purchases please click here to email me.


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