The Anatomy of Hope

As the spectacular crapshow that was 2020 grinds to its inglorious end, and life keeps going on and adjusting to whatever the hell else gets thrown at us, I find myself thinking about that most duplicitous of virtues: hope.

After all, without hope in some form, not much happens. The combination of hope and ambition can lead to some breathtaking accomplishments. It’s one of the things that makes us different, makes us capable of doing more than just reacting to whatever happens.

Without the ability to believe that things can be better than they are, who would try to change anything? As long as people can hope for a better life, they will work to try to make it. Even in the grimmest situations, people will hold on and hope.

They’ll also pray, and plan, and work towards their goals.

The problem with that – and I should confess at this point that I do have issues with depression (who am I kidding? My issues have raised entire legions of issues) and I’m horribly pessimistic. My natural inclination is to assume the worst and then in a fit of perverse self-sabotage try to prove it. I’m working on not doing that to myself, but so far apart from having held jobs for over 7 years twice running, I’m not too sure I’m succeeding (the jobs bit is significant – for a long time there I was convinced I had the anti-Midas touch when it came to employment. Either I couldn’t get work, or something catastrophic would happen to my employer. Or me. Keeping one position for 7 years before a layoff in the midst of one of the economic messes after the company had 11 months straight losses was something of a minor miracle to me. Keeping the one I got after that for 7 years going on 8 is almost enough for me to believe I’ve beaten the anti-Midas curse).

So part of me sees what’s happening and looks for all the positives and finds reasons to hope all will eventually be well. The rest of me looks at that part and metaphorically goes “What the hell are you on?” At which point my sarcastic side points out that the veritable pharmacopeia keeping me more or less stable does include some interesting psychotropic drugs that do not have much information about long term dosage. And my ruthlessly practical side adds that when it’s a choice between drug-free and non-functional and drugged up with probable interesting side effects as time goes by but able to function more or less normally (or at least well enough to maybe pass for normal), I’ll take the drugs, please.

Narcolepsy-induced chronic sleep deprivation depression sucks. It also plays hell with a whole lot of other things, including pretty much every organ in the body, which means I’m gradually adding more medications as more bits of me start to crap out. Such is life.

There are times when I utterly envy the cats. A life of sleeping 20 hours out of every 24 and nobody minds? Hell yes (As I write this, Westley is curled up in the kitty bed behind my monitor, while Midnight is snuggled up beside the heater. I have no idea where Buttercup is, and probably don’t want to know, since kitty rampages generally follow someone finding a hidden kitteh. Not that she’ll stay invisible for too long. It’s dark outside, which means she’ll come pestering to get us into bed with her. Sleeping with the humans is almost as important as making sure the humans do their business properly, after all, and never mind the effect of having strategically placed felines making movement almost impossible on the bed).

Anyway, have a picture of Buttercup on her cardboard claw scratcher thing (which is significantly more shredded now than it was a couple of months ago when I took this picture), and may 2020 be the worst year any of us ever have.

20 comments

    1. I’ve been better about minimizing emotional investment in politics, so 2020 was a happier and healthier year for me than 2016. It is still a little premature to say that, because I could get a fatal heart attack or something.

      And 2020 may still compare better to presidential election years since becoming an adult, and during my awareness of politics, because the productivity data isn’t very complete younger than a certain age.

    2. Similarly, years 6-8 of my time in public education were definitely the nadir of my life. Though they weren’t *that* awful, I still think that anyone who wasn’t homeschooled and actually enjoyed middle school is automatically suspect.

  1. May 2021 be the worst year our enemies ever have.
    ———————————
    Governments can’t create prosperity; at best, they can refrain from destroying it.

  2. Grades 9-12 versus 2020: Currently, tossup, I did nearly get killed then, I was very sick through March and April now. 2020 vs 2019: Tossup; 2019 was more physically hellish, 2020 I’ve had to deal with a death and cleaning up after said death was intestate. (Still in progress.)

    Desperately hoping 2021 is… calmer.

  3. There are two ways to look at hope. The first — what we might call Pandora’s version — is the view that hope is our comfort when times are dark and miseries impinge. The second, which the late Roger Zelazny expounded in a a short story whose name I’ve forgotten, is that hope is a deceptive pseudo-promise that things can and will be better, that keeps us from making the best of things as they are. Your choice between the two attitudes depends primarily on your optimism / pessimism balance. I’ve known people on both ends of the scale.

    That having been said, I have a recommendation for you all: At midnight tonight (your local time), immediately hop into the shower and scrub yourself down thoroughly. (If possible, have a loved one in there with you to scrub your back.) After all, you don’t want to bring any of 2020 with you into the New Year! (:-)

    1. You should also open all your windows and doors to let the old year out and the new year in. If you want to be thorough, open up attic accesses and chimney dampers.

    2. I’ve read a lot of Zelazny, and that one doesn’t ring a bell.

      I do remember the one about a man escaping from the Flying Dutchman and being rescued by the Marie Celeste

  4. As bad as 2020 has been, it still doesn’t hold a candle to 2011-12. Which, actually, has been a mantra this year. “Yes, it’s bad, but it’s not as bad as 2011-12. We survived that, we can survive this.” I’ve lived through my own personal hell and came out stronger for it. There is reason to believe that things will get better.

  5. The one good thing to come out of 2020 – is that my daughter is pregnant, and the most recent tests are all positive – no trisomy problems, and no sign of spina bifida. However, we both suspect that my grandson will be very bright and hyperactive …

    1. And you wouldn’t have it any other way! 🙂
      I expect pictures. You’ve been warned.
      And if I can figure out where in heck I put the soft yarn, there might be blankie.

      1. Or a nice little matinee jacket and cap … we’re good with blankets at the moment. This is when I miss my grands the most. They were fantastic knitters, and my mother only had a mad fling with knitting sometime in the late 1960s. I think it was when she was pregnant with my younger sister.
        Me, I’m getting out the patterns that I had for my daughter, the ones that can be done for boys. There was a lovely set of patterns of basically unisex safari-style clothing that Butterick/MCalls came out with in the 80s and 90ies. Very cute – I did a bunch of them for my daughter. Got to get them out for Jamie. (James Alexander Page, after a great-uncle, uncle and great-grandfather. He’s going to be an awesome kid, that’s why he has two middle names.)

  6. Peter and I both got through this year *knocks on wood, An’ it please God* without being at death’s door. Given that there have been multiple other years where this was not the case, and that this year, while not brilliant in so many aspects, has not left us with deep scars or new medical bills that would pay for a new car…

    It’s soon to be over, and turned from interesting times and learning experiences into war stories and black-humoured jokes.

  7. My wife is really struggling right now. Between the disruption in routine, knee injury and the surgery that didn’t help the pain, and that she really, really wants to move (as in now, dang it! things have not been good for her depression. I’m hoping 2021 will be better, but I’ve been hoping that since we got married, and they have done the opposite year over year.

  8. Yeah, this is not the worst year we’ve had. I have to say that 2013 when my dad died and I became responsible for my mom (Alzheimer’s since 2006), through 2016 when my mom died, and moving into January 2017 when her sister (who had become my second mom while mine was in the hell of Alzheimer’s) died…those were worse.

  9. I expect the next two-three years are going to hurt like a mother.
    I also expect after that we’ll start the upswing, slowly.
    The downside is that I’m unlikely to see my parents on this side of reality, again because of their ages. And I miss dad something awful. (Even though I don’t miss the country.)
    The upside is you and I, sister mine, WILL survive. We’re so fricking broken they can’t break us anymore. And yet, we move!
    Let’s move on and get ‘er done.
    Love and many good wishes for 2021.

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