Jamie's Blog

Lessons from a life of startups, coding, countryside, and kids

The Beauty of Hopelessness

![ Hope](images/20090131182305_pict8036-398x600.jpg) Since 1995, I went by the username hopeless as my online identity. In explaining it, I would tell the story of how when I went to university I was replaced by a puppy called Hope (from the Hope Valley near Sheffield — my mum barely waited an hour to find my replacement). But, in truth, there was a fair dose of self-deprecation involved too. And, whilst I enjoyed clicking on links that said “Click here if you’re not hopeless”, it started to wear thin and I wanted to disassociate myself with those feelings last year.

There is another way to look at hopelessness; or, rather, there’s another way to think about hope. Hope is dis-empowering. Hope is wishing that someone else would make you rich / thin / “beautiful” / happy. Hope, at the very core, the very definition of hope, is believing that you cannot do something. Hope is admiting that you are powerless. Hope-less-ness then, is actually a positive thing. It’s saying, “I have no need for hope because I am empowered to fix this thing”. When put this way, I think hope-less-ness is actually something to strive for.

Even when you’re faced with a situation where “hope” seems like the only option, I think hope-less-ness is the better route. Perhaps you’ve just been diagnosed with cancer (or, you’ve just noticed a suspicious lump). Is ‘hope’ the right response here? I don’t think that any amount of hoping is going to make those cancer cells go away. So, scrap the hope and grab the reins and start taking action. Go to the doctor, get the tests, follow the treatment, take the drugs, do the surgery and the chemo and the radiation therapy. And when all your options are expended? Isn’t that the time for hope? No, that is the time for acceptance and it’s going to come so much easier knowing that you have done everything in your power to help yourself.

It’s funny how a word can take on a completely different meaning when you think about it.

^ This post was instigated, in part, by recalling the book When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön.