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Day 6: The Definition of Hope

“Hope is the thing with feathers –
that perches in the soul-
and sings the tune without the words-
and never stops – at all”

~Emily Dickinson

I initially picked this quotation because I like Emily Dickinson: She was such an interesting person!  While she was alive, and even afterwards, people thought she was just some crazy house-bound lady with irrational fears about leaving her house.  But then after she died, they found all her writing.  She was known for a few pieces of writing before she died, but it is her posthumous publications that have made her the literary classic that she is today.

Isn’t it interesting how much beauty and emotion she had in her writing – that she kept to herself for so many years?  I mean, she even asked her sister to burn all of her writing after her death (and thank goodness she didn’t!).  I think it relates somewhat to the idea of “isolation” that I mentioned on Day 3.  How would Ms. Dickinson have been viewed by her peers if they read her writing while she was still alive?  Would it have made a difference in her life?

Anyhow, back to the quotation.  I like Emily Dickinson because her writing has so much insight.  I’ve never really taken the time to think about what “Hope” is.  Here, Dickinson characterizes it a bird in the soul that sings a song and never stops.  I’ve often wondered what it is that makes me get out of bed in the morning, even when I feel like there is no point.  What makes me wipe the tears off my face and move on to the next task at hand?  Surely it can’t be my own consciousness and willpower; Most of the time I lament the circumstances in life and wonder why there is any point to doing anything.  Regardless, there is something – some reason – I am able to rise up from the floor, steady my shaking knees and put one foot slowly in front of the other.
Maybe it is a song that plays deep down in my soul. 
Maybe it is the one thing that is always present and always constant.
Maybe this is Hope.

Hope is a feeling that what we want is attainable or that whatever is happening will turn out “for the best.”  At the worst possible moments we say that we’ve lost all hope – But somehow we still go on.  As long as we’re alive, we have hope.  Even if we don’t feel it, it’s there.  And as Ms. Dickinson says: “it never stops – at all”

3 thoughts on “Day 6: The Definition of Hope

  1. Wonderful post. Especially love that poem from Dickinson, hadn’t seen that one before.

    The part about getting up in the morning even when everything in you doesn’t see the point really struck a chord with me.

    Great reminder about the bittersweet beautiful tragedy that is our life. Thanks for sharing.


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