JOZ of Life: Reflecting on hope in the new year


Happy New Year, Fam! It’s the dawning of a new decade and 2020 is about to pop off. Sure, there is work to be done. … Dear God, please let the democrats get it together by November. And, can we all just agree that climate change is a thing, women should make their own health care decisions and gun control really needs to happen? Dare to dream. Despite what is sure to be a bumpy road ahead, there are reasons to hope.

Hope is a funny thing. I’ve spent most of my adult life avoiding it. Some might argue that hope and fear are basically the same thing, a map dot on the road to expectations. To be hopeful is to be vulnerable. To be hopeful is to be invested. Hope accompanies the risk of disappointment. None of which sounds particularly appealing.

Yet, the right combination of hope and fear can be useful. As motivators go, fear is exceptionally effective. Fear of loss. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Avoiding the pain of these possibilities can really get the ball rolling, if you know what I mean. Are fears just hopes that got a little out of control?

Questionable coping mechanisms aside, the seeds of hope have a funny way of blooming no matter how mistrusted they may be. Emily Dickenson once wrote:

“Hope is the thing with feathers. That perches in the soul. And sings the tune without words And never stops at all.”

Fight me if you want, but I think she meant that hope is intrinsic to the human condition. Even when it is denied, it stands ready to infect the soul.

If hope resides in us always, it need only be awakened to appear. I think that we save our best hopes for others. I know I do. My hopes for others are only distantly attached to fear.

I hope my sister stays sober. And, not because I fear the consequences of her relapse, but because she still needs to experience the beaches of Hawaii. I hope my nephew gets into college. Not because I am afraid he won’t, but because I know he needs room to make some big mistakes.

I hope every new parent in my life gets some sleep. And, I hope this one needs no explanation. I hope my squad F-ng slays their goals this year. Not because I am afraid, they won’t, but because they deserve their successes. Hope is about perspective. Maybe it’s related more closely to love than fear. Maybe not. Maybe the truth is that both hope and fear are reactions to outcomes over which we have alarmingly little control. Both hope and fear are necessary. And, the realities of 2020 may very well become fearsome at times. And, I guess that’s alright. Just listen to the wordless tune of hope and remember that it belongs to all, is exclusive to none and if Dickenson is to be believed, never stops at all. Happy New Year!

Joslyn Hatfield is a Las Vegas-based writer and activist. Her column, Joz of Life, appears monthly in the Las Vegas.