This Lent, I’m Giving Up Hope

hope/hōp/

noun
  1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

Everyone has a rock-bottom.

Mine found me in a familiar place; my mat, on the floor of my living room, desperately trying to get into my savasana. Doing whatever I could to clear my mind of the last two years. In a mere 12 months ten years of work had turned to dust; I watched my life plan unravel with the ending of a long-term relationship. I exhausted my savings getting back on my feet after walking away from it empty-handed. I’d worked my way up at a company that no longer existed, I had few job prospects and the lease was up on my apartment. Two promising side-endeavors failed to come through after aligning myself with what turned out to be poor company, and I couldn’t afford to try again. I was twenty pounds heavier, after completely abandoning the self-care routines that had kept me together so many years. I had toiled, sweated, compromised, sacrificed and bled with nothing to show for it but a battered body and a broken spirit. I had nothing.

The next 12 months I furiously dedicated to “making something happen”. Refusing to be sidelined for too long I poured myself into new endeavors. Rededicated to a routine of fitness and self-care. Branched out and tried to network. I’d even tested my bravery and allowed myself to date again. Only for some reason…nothing seemed to click. Networks failed. I tried harder. Deals fell through. I pressed on. Connections seemed promising, only to be met time and time again with “you’re wonderful but..” I pushed harder. I tried and I worked and I forced and I pushed, only to be pushed back even further.

 Not one thing I tried, hoped for or worked towards had come to fruition. I seemed to be back where I started. I lay on my mat trying to accept what the Universe was handing me but all I could muster was fury. I had hoped. I had tried. I had hoped. I had failed.

Somewhere mid-pity-party a quiet voice asked, “Why are you trying so hard? What is it that you were hoping for?”

I was floored. On the floor.

It was then I realized it is just too exhausting to try and keep ahead of the Universe. You try, and you try harder and you try too hard, all in the hope that you can somehow make something work that may have never been for you, anyway. Trying to hold on to a person or a relationship in the hopes that it will make you complete. Trying to force connections in the hopes that this new opportunity will bring you happiness. Making rash decisions in the hope that this new success will somehow make you “better”. Picking your fate instead of trusting the Universe to bring you what you need as long as you do the work.

There is a Buddhist philosophy that loosely states by releasing your attachment to what you desire; you unblock your path to it. How many times have you been told during a competitive sporting event to “trust your training” and let the rest take care of itself? By solely concentrating on the result-and what would happen to you if you didn’t achieve the one you desire- you take your focus off what needs to be done. It is impossible to do your best if you are focused on anything other than doing your best.

Most importantly, this way of thinking robs you of what can get you through your most challenging times- gratitude. I’d been so busy focusing on what I had lost that I missed all I had gained, and what was already present in my life. I’ve made leaps forward. Where I was paralyzed in my grief I have movement. I have new friends and a solid support system. I have an effective self-care routine. I am not where I want to be but I have a path. There is love present in my life and I am happy.

Every day isn’t going to be a forward step. It is very easy to go back, to be overwhelmed by the work left to do and choose to do nothing. It is in those times that you stop looking so far ahead; pause and remind yourself there is happiness in this moment, there is joy in the now.

It is with that spirit that for this Lent, I have chosen to give up hope. To take the focus off my expectations for the outcome and observe what is already present. To surrender my need to control everything around me, accept what is and be open to what can be. To commit to doing the work- doing my best- and leaving the rest up to the Universe. To exclusively enjoy the many good things already in my life instead of neglecting them to push forward. To believe that what is meant for me will be there for me when I need it. To live life in gratitude.
After all, the more thankful you are, the more you will have to be thankful for.

Do I know what will come of the next 40 days? Nope. But I know that a pause is necessary. And I have a feeling I will get what I need. Or I just might discover I already have it.

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