This is going to be a conversational post. Not sure where I’m going with it, but it’s been a while since we’ve talked and I’d like to catch up. So instead of writing a more typical blog post with a theme or thesis, we’re just going to chat today. Cool?
One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is the cycle of despair and hope. I read something on one of my favorite websites (Brainpickings) that keeps circulating through my psyche, a quote from Maira Kalman: “We hope. We despair. We hope. We despair. That is what governs us.”
Certainly, this juggling of hope and despair has been a hallmark of 2017 for me already. And if I follow the thread closely enough, I can see that this was also the case in 2016 and for much of my adult life, truly. Because this movement between despair and hope is a hallmark of the broader human experience.
Let me be clear before I go too much further on this train of thought: my life is good. For that, I am immensely grateful. I am safe. I am privileged. I have cuddly cats and a rascally pup and a solid partner. I still have valid struggles, but I also have perspective. This said…
There have been reasons to despair lately. I see them in the daily news, I’m hit with them afresh with each vile surge of the new US administration. I have despair for my country, for my world, and for myself.
But alongside of that despair, I have seen the reasons to hope – and I’ve seen my relationship with the concept of hope itself become more nuanced. Hope does not have to be wishy-washy. Hope does not have to be passive, vague. Hope does not have to be disconnected from reality. And hope does not have to be naive.
There are certain lessons I’m presented with time and time again in this life. Even when I feel like I “get” it, these lessons show up again and again, in all different angles and guises. One of my recurring lessons is the importance of being fully present with ALL of life. It is not possible for me to fully present for hope unless I am also fully present for despair.
There are a few reasons I’ve ghosted out of the blogging game lately. I guess mostly they have to do with the despair scale seeming so overwhelming at times. There have been moments that the despair feels so gripping that trying to write a business as usual blog post about reversed tarot cards or some such thing has seemed a little trite.
I may not have an enormous platform, but I think I’ve crafted out an avenue to bring value to other people through what I do. I’ve also realized that when it comes to anything involving my business – this blog, my social media posts, and my client work – I put pressure on myself to consistently show up as my best self.
And by default, perhaps on an unconscious level, I’ve told myself that my best self is NOT the self who despairs. My best self is the self who hopes! My best self is the self who has a well-crafted message of wisdom to offer. My best self is the self who feels courageous and proactive and empowered. I’ve only just now realized that I’ve believed this – I’ve been running on an unchecked belief that I’m only my best self when I am holding the energy of HOPE.
I guess tonight I’m wondering…what if I’ve been misguided about this? What if my best self is my whole self? My best self might also be the self who doesn’t know what to say, who rambles, who gets awkward, who feels terrified and uncertain.
Both of these selves are me. They are really part of the same self. Both are true.
Maybe I can stop putting so much pressure on myself to only and always show up with hope. Maybe the most important thing is that I show up with truth. And the truth is that I do hope. And I do despair. And then I hope again.
“There is no love of life without despair of life.” -Albert Camus
Okay. And with that, I think I’ve effectively broken the ice to get myself back into regular posts.
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