The Power and Necessity of HOPE
As I expected, the hallway on the rehab floor where the Harborview Hospital Psychologist had his office was mostly deserted. How many times had I come here, looking for HOPE? Quad cane in hand, I hobbled boldly down the corridor toward his office. This time, things were different.
Regardless of how many times the Harborview Hospital psychologist told me I would never drive again, I kept hoping against HOPE that I would drive again. My grandfather, head injured in World War 2, regained his drivers license, and so would I! Having HOPE in the face of extreme circumstances is an act of defiance that gives us the courage to dream our own dreams.
I’ve wondered if clinging to HOPE in the face of overwhelming odds gives one the strength to be defiant or if having the strength to be defiant gives one HOPE. I concluded that since defiant people don’t necessarily have HOPE, HOPE must give one the strength to defy the odds.
“Come in,” the psychologist’s voice responded to my knock.
I entered and went straight to the chair where I used to sit as I asked him if he thought I’d be driving again. Sitting in my customary seat, I again asked if he thought I’d drive.
“Al,” he said. “We’ve been over this and over this. You will never drive again.”
Imagine the feeling in my chest as I dramatically reached into my pocket and pulled out my newly reacquired driver’s license. I felt confident, I tried not to seem cocky, as I held it up for him to see.
Besides never driving again, another fear that prompted me to cling to HOPE was the fear that my paralysis would cause me to wither away in a state of atrophy. I HOPEd against HOPE that wouldn’t happen. My strong HOPE has kept me active in health clubs, doing push-ups, and playing with two dumbbells I keep in my living room, one bigger and one smaller.
“Wow!” Bonnie and the two girls that live next door say as they feel my biceps or lift the dumbbell I just put down. I completely realize that having three of my kindest and most supportive female friends express admiration for me says more about them than it does about me or my physical state, but I sure enjoy it.
HOPE goes around then comes around
Having their supportive input allays another fear that has kept my HOPE alive and useful. I am speaking of my fear that my obvious physical differences would impair my ability to have full and mutually satisfying relationships. The negative impact my differences had on my attitude kept most positive relationships out of reach for years.
The ringing phone on the nightstand beside my bed jars me awake. It’s cold and dark outside. I try to pretend the phone is part of my dream. It rings four times than goes to the answering machine. Good. Maybe it was a wrong number. Uh, oh. It’s ringing again.
“Hi Al, I missed the bus.”
I sigh deeply. I sure was enjoying my warm snug bed. “OK,” I say. “I’m getting up.” Part of fulfilling my HOPE that I will always have people I can count on means being a person other people can count on.
Some of the psychologist’s predictions about my new limits came to pass, but many others were surpassed. Even wise and learned people know only what will happen in the vast majority of cases. The three things they have no way of knowing are:
- The resources a particular person has in terms of their willingness to accept their situation, which opens up many possibilities.
- How willing the patient is to work on improving their situation.
- How optimistic and HOPEful they are that working on their situation will improve their situation.
If it seems too difficult to count the number of HOPEful people who turned out to be high achievers, come at the same question from the other side, how many achievements are made without HOPE?