We continue our Reflections on Hope for the month of August.
We all have agency and ability. The rich, the privileged, the marginalized, the small, the big, and the young. We, all of us, sometimes just don’t know where to begin. Hope helps us to know where to begin. Hope assures us that we matter.
We have problems. Lots of them. Our own. We take on other people’s problems. We have big community problems. Big city problems. System problems. State, nation, world…universe problems. Real problems. Imagined problems. We have problems. Big, small, and everything in between.
We like to leap over problems. To get to the point when “everything will be better” and we can forget about it. We don’t like being in the middle of problems. We are quite skilled at avoiding them. We’re quite skilled at ignoring problems. We all know that problems don’t disappear, magically heal themselves, or go away. They might be hidden, masked, or ignored, but they usually don’t go away.
Sometimes, they get louder when we uncover and discover them and this is uncomfortable. But perhaps, that is exactly what we need to do more often. Bring the problems out in the open…to be uncomfortable…and fall in love with problems…
OK maybe falling in love is taking it a bit too far. Maybe not. But if we can become better acquainted with the problems, we might better understand them and dislike them a little bit less. Maybe they’re a little like the people around us that we like less than we’d like to admit. When we’re open to seeing, we can look at problems with a sense of creativity and curiosity which helps open doors to see instead of closing doors.
Looking at the whole problem, and even the other problems that surround each problem, creates a bigger picture. Usually, a single lonely problem is not so single and lonely, although we like to just fix small ones to feel like we’ve moved on, when really…we haven’t or shouldn’t. And it might be a good habit to get into with smaller problems for times when problems are big, scary problems. Or we seem to have so many problems, we can’t figure out where to begin. That piece of skillfulness again. Skillfulness requires practice.
When we look, instead of turning away, we see options for what we can do with this, instead of the one, quick, easy solution that simple gets us past. Solutions that are often battle it, kill it, destroy it, get rid of it at all costs. Things that often don’t really “fix” anything. Things that often don’t help us learn and grow, which is a gift of being human: learning from the past and preparing for the future. Our gifts come with responsibility.
Perhaps, we could see different outcomes that could come of the problem, not just the one solution we want at first glance. We can even open the doors to the worst case scenarios that are often not as scary and awful as they seem on our initial peek. Most of our problems are a Journey more than anything else. Rarely are they destinations and end points, despite our very human desire to end things and move on. To make things linear and separate, instead of a continuous Whole.
Brainstorming, opening doors to see more clearly, helps us to discover better ways to be more loving, forgiving, inclusive, kind, hopeful. The practices of Love.
We, each of us, have agency and purpose. We can become the best versions of ourselves by not turning away, but by uncovering. Discovering effective solutions and fixes…instead of more rugs, masks, hiding its, and turning aways. Seeing things clearly gives us a better idea of what we can do (each of us and all of us together). Perhaps falling in love with problems is a bit of an “ask”, but perhaps it’s not. Perhaps it is only asking us to practice a deeper understanding of the things around us…and the people around us. Which, opens doors to love and more love.
And Hope. Hopeful futures. Big, small, and everything in between.
One of Jane Goodall’s reasons for hope is our children. I really like this one, especially since we spend a lot of time looking at what’s wrong with the current generation of kids. It must be ingrained in our collective DNA, because it happens every generation. My favorite is when someone questions something “kids are doing these days” and I think: didn’t we do that? And let’s face it, “what’s wrong with kids these days”, has been a refrain our entire lives; we just change roles. And it’s always been said.
Maybe we need to better understand our kids and one another. Maybe our kids is a good place to begin. To be with them and open doors, instead of looking at them as if they are another problem. “What’s wrong with other people (kids in this example)” closes doors instead of opening them. It’s not, at its root, loving.
This practice of loving problems can be a great way to connect with hope and our kids and reciprocity and connection.
There’s a common saying: if you know something really well, you should be able to put it into words a five year old can understand. This idea can help us to remember to practice what we want our kids to be able to do and to learn so that we can effectively share it with them. Like hope. Like dealing with problems, which might be the same thing. It seems we spend a lot of time quietly taking hope away from our kids. They are so full of hope and possibility and belief and faith.
We begin to take it away. One little thing at a time. We start to teach kids to step away from what they are passionate about and to focus on things that are practical and will bring them money and security. We teach them to fear other people and uncomfortable situations. We begin to eat away at their imagination and playfulness. We want them to have faith, but in “the right way”.
We tell our kids to dream big, then slowly take away hope. It’s pretty clear that we collectively believe in a doomed future for our kids. PAUSE. How do we instill hope and possibility and faith, when we present a picture of doom? PAUSE. The answer is: you can’t. That’s why Hope is vital. PAUSE.
Perhaps…we don’t know where to begin. We don’t know where to help. We don’t know how to do it ourselves and so we don’t know how to pass it on. It becomes a problem we avoid, so we don’t do the work, and then we can’t effectively teach. So maybe falling in love with problems isn’t such a crazy idea after all.
There’s a reciprocity to cultivating hope with kids. We see a big picture, and we have experience, but kids see the Small Wins and possibility. They give us hope. The look on a kid’s face when they save one tiny creature lost from the nest, or fill one bag of roadside garbage, or give one dollar to a person in need….it’s huge to them. We need to cheer that on because that will only get bigger as they get bigger if we cheer and encourage.
There’s reciprocity in hope. Kids can give us back possibility, belief, imagination, faith and hope and we can give them the skills, while cultivating it in ourselves.
We need more Small Wins. To see the small hopes within what seems big and ugly and messy and tangled. Kids are wise, hopeful creatures. Our work is to guide them on that skill of deepening hope. Not taking it away. Helping them learn the skill of creating the goal, following the path, and let them know that the small wins matter just as much as the big wins. To let them know that each “failure” is a Failing Forward and there’s a bigger picture we can’t see in what send out.
To do this well, we need to do it ourselves. One saved life/small win is worth everything. The first step is to begin practicing ourselves. And remembering that we don’t have to have perfected hope before sharing it. Use the Still, Quiet Space to connect with what is most important. Then go out and practice. Begin. Share.