In the fall of 2003, I was training to be a Nike Athlete and to raise funds for the Susan B. Koman Race for the Cure. I was planning to join a racing team and was hopeful that I could find my place in the running world and contribute to cancer research. Several people close to me were affected by the disease and I wanted to show my unwavering support.
Around 6 months into my training regimen, I started to feel run down and sore all over. I remember, one evening during a college choir rehearsal, feeling a searing pain in my right foot, which I later found out was a torn traverse arch and a severe case of tendonitis that along with knee and hip issues would affectively end my stint as a competitor, marathoner, and as a runner altogether.
I was shocked by the abruptness of it all — one day I was running 16 miles, and the next day couldn’t walk without crutches. I was never again able to run the trails I had loved so much with their soul-filling peace, optimism, and hope.
When anything happens that has the possibility of rendering all hope inert, I can tell you what I now understand, 17 years later— you are strong, brave, courageous, and resilient. You can tap into your inner source of strength whenever necessary. At any time, you can embrace an optimistic state of mind that is based on hope, encouragement, and positivity, because hopelessness is a state of mind and not reality. The optimist in me will never stop believing in hope. And it was this resilient fountain of steadfastness that led me to mourn the loss of running, but to embrace other life-giving careers and hobbies, such as yoga, philanthropy, writing, and hiking the lush mountains of Appalachia.
Without hope, resiliency is blocked. There is no next step; it’s the end of the road. Without hope, there is no possibility of joy. Instead, I choose hope.
The end of a decade is an extraordinary time ripe with unforeseen transformation and challenges. In the face of these unavoidable developments, we each have to face the complexities of sustaining hope throughout our lives.
To be clear, hope doesn’t mean that we reject certain realities. Rather, it calls for the honest acknowledgment and discussion of our current climate in all of its manifestations. Yes, times will always have the underpinnings of advancement, whether easy or difficult. But it is with hope and encouragement that we can focus on the growth of the decade while honoring where we are now, and where we want to go.
The past decade has been an outstanding one for building movements of social change. It’s also been a decade of a deep realization that change is inevitable. With so much growth and movement, one could call it a chronicle of life itself.
Hope is found in the discovery of the uncertainty that permeates humankind; we can only find ourselves by getting lost. We don’t know what the future holds, and it is this vastness of not knowing that gives us freedom.
We lose hope when we lose perspective on the gradual yet continuous changes that create new eras vastly different than anything seen before.
Hope is when we welcome and accept the unknown. It’s the realization that what we do matters even though who and what our actions may impact isn’t known until after the fact. We may never know the full effects, but without hope, there is nothing to ponder or strive for.
Hope is complex and often invisible. But to create a vibrant future, we have to be present, willing to learn from the past and be encouraged by the future. To change everything, it will take all of us. Hope is the reality that we wish to see, encouraging us to release fear, one kind act at a time.