Being the mega-nerd-girl that I am, I went and saw Mockingjay over the weekend. It’s been a while since I read the Hunger Games Trilogy, so I can’t remember if the quote in the movie that struck me was in the book, but it was this that caught my attention and sent me into one of my introverted meandering mind states:
“It is the things we love most that will destroy us.” – President Snow (played by the ever-awesome-and-kinda-creepy Donald Sutherland)
That they will, Mr. President. That. They. Will.
You’re wondering what the hell any of this has to do with hope, as per the title of today’s blog. Well, let me see if I can bring you along my usually-running-off-the-tracks train of thought.
First, a little insider info:
I’m generally an incredibly positive person. I have a pretty soft heart that is capable of immense amounts of love and compassion – too much, I’m finding – although I like to believe it’s well-guarded by thick brick walls topped with razor wire and surrounded by ninjas. Which tells you that I also like to think of myself as a pretty tough chick. And I am.
Or maybe stubborn is more the adjective. Resilient. Tenacious. Bull-headed pain in the ass, some might say.
And some people might respect or appreciate that quality. After all, I was in the military and now work in emergency services – giving up is not really in the nature of successful people in those lines of business.
I might say glutton for punishment. Because the problem, as I see it, is I don’t know when to give up.
I think it’s a by-product of watching too much television. I love stories – TV, movies, books, poems, songs – about good triumphing over evil, underdogs winning, survival against all odds, friends loyal to the end despite endless obstacles, magic and soul mates, love conquering all!
All the things that never seem to actually happen in real life.
And I’m beginning to see that I am a reluctantly hopeful person. I want to see all the stories become reality – just once! I say I’m reluctant because my talent for holding on like a pitbull-on-a-pork chop has left me scarred, burned, a bit fractured, and sometimes even fully broken.
And yet I have’t yet learned how to let go – even of the things that aren’t meant for me.
My conscious mind, the logical part, is so pragmatic and such a realist. It tells me when I’m spinning my wheels, when what I want to happen simply will not happen, when the sheer force of my seemingly indominable will is simply not enough. My mind knows when to give up and move on.
But my heart...My stupid hopeful heart. My heart with all of its fanciful friggin’ faith. That brick-wall-and-ninja-guarded marshmallowy thing that dreams and wishes and hopes…That place in the center of my being – in the center of all of us – is a stupid, silly thing that sets me up for a fall nearly every chance it gets.
Every perceived insult is personal, every lost friend a new emptiness, every betrayal a fresh wound, every rejection the ripping and tearing of scar tissue opened to bleed again and take a lifetime to heal. My dad’s death was a new kind of pain that now seems to have created a recurring injury that, like some horrific form of physical PTSD, now throbs anew when I’m experiencing anything akin to grief.
So there I lie, from time to time, bleeding internally and trying to muster the strength to heal the broken bones and third degree burns and lacerations while simultaneously getting on stage to live my life – go to work, take care of a home & family, connect with friends, plan for and approach my future… All the things we’re supposed to do. And I do it. I find the strength, and each morning when the alarm goes off I step into the spotlight and play my part, fully adorned in trendy costume and brilliantly smiling character.
Some days remind me of the weeks after my dad died, when I could feel every single second pass by and the goal was just to keep breathing through each one of them. And maybe try not to cry.
There is a part of me that believes a person needs to have hope. It’s what keeps us moving forward, after all. But I often wonder – like when Johnny Cash died just a few short months after his wife, June Carter Cash – when will a broken heart, a heart made to hope and hold on for nothing, finally kill you?
Yes, yes, I know – everything is a lesson, there’s always an opportunity, everything happens for a reason, if it’s meant to be it will be, it’s all a growth opportunity, if one door closes another opens, blah, blah, blah. I get that. A part of me even believes that.
But wouldn’t it be a lovely, less painful thing to control hope?
It may not be the thing that wields the killing blow, but it is the thing that opens the armor and bares the tenderest, most mortal parts of us.