I once knew a fantastically popular, immensely powerful man. Once his swooning fans had left for the night, he would retreat to his den.
He’d try to bend his skeletal frame around the huge, impossibly soft pillows on his couch, and he’d sit there, scowling and frowning, gazing blindly out into the night.
He’d hear me talk about a project or an event, hoping it would turn out well, or hoping I could get it to work, and he’d cry out, scolding me, “Quit saying I hope this, I hope that! Because it won’t happen! It won’t happen, do you hear me? Hope is an empty beggar!””
He’d glare at me, pinning me to the wall with the daggers of his eyes, trying to punish me for outright refuting his truths.
He’d glare and stare and glare and stare … then suddenly his head would just drop -cachunk- onto his gaunt, upright knees, and he was instantly asleep. I’d cover him with the afghan, and go to bed.
Finally, I could take no more.
I snuck away from his desolate lair, crawling on hands and knees into the soft undergrowth that surrounded the house, finally reaching the grass edge to stand and flee as fast as I could.
The Great Wheel of the Universe spun on its ineffable course, and within it, I was free!
Or was I? His declarations haunted me, all the way to my bones.
I sat and leaned heavily against the Old Mother Tree. Above me, the entire tree canopy scintillated and vibrated in the soft light of the moon. Pondering his dire pronouncement, asking myself, was it true?
Was hope so hopeless after all?
At last, many moons later, I noticed how, even after hoping about hope, nothing changed. So I threw my hope away.
As I did so, I closed my ears to the infinite sigh of sadness that echoed up from the endless caverns of my heart.
I shut my eyes to beauty, and allowed myself to be consumed by anger, fear, doubt, and grief.
One day, as I sat in despair contemplating The End, thinking my life couldn’t be more empty, Hope came along.
She smiled and opened her arms.
Exhausted, I fell into them, grateful. Before my head even hit her chest, I was already fast asleep.
When I at last opened my eyes, she offered me her hand. What else did I have to do? I took it.
She led me for miles.
I didn’t think to ask where we were going. I was just glad of her company.
She said, “Do this… “ and I did it, not even knowing why. And we kept walking.
She said again, “Do this… “ and I did. And again. And again.
We must have walked a thousand miles.
Three times, Hope showed me the simplest tasks.
I did them gladly.
Showed me the road of love. I walked with her in quiet, swollen joy.
Led me far away from the yawning chasm of Eternal Weeping Darkness.
Finally, I sat up, feeling like the sun lived in my belly.
I thanked her without a word. She already knew how I felt.
I kept walking, doing more tasks, walking and walking on the path of love.
I walked, and walked, and walked.
At last, I found my friend, and offered him my hand.
He tried to stare and glare at me, but I just smiled.
He reached for my hand, and as he took it, I said, “Do this… “ and he did.
And we walked, and walked; and we walk, and walk, and walk . . . .
© Angela Treat Lyon 2016
text: © Angela Treat Lyon 2023