Making Space for Hope

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Lately, I’ve been thinking lot about hope. What is this flimsy, dimestore favorite, fleeting emotion that has more in common with a party balloon than a vestige of strength or a trusted barometer of real outcome? How does it help us, if at all? From where does it come? Fact, feelings, desperation, or just plain lunacy?

1. the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best
1. to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence                                           

So, basically, hope is an expectation of good fortune that isn’t based on any real truth. In fact, if good fortune seemed like a reasonable outcome, we probably wouldn’t need hope at all.

Many years ago, my hairdresser, a Japanese woman named Junko, replied No hope, no hope to my tearful and weary account of my romantic affairs. I was internet dating at the time, and with her make-no-bones-about-it manner and decidedly Asian forbearance, she simply didn’t see how my expecting a better fish in that proverbial sea was a good idea.
Yet, without hope, I feel overwhelmed—no, depressed—by the crushing burden of world hunger, war, slavery, sexual exploitation, species extinction, the list goes on and on. It’s just too much to bear.
What can one person do to save the world?
The other night, Tree and I were having a light conversation with Guillermo and Paula about the slaughter at Guernica during the Spanish civil war (think Picasso painting), the ambush and murder of revolutionary leader Che Guevara, and the complete genocide of the entire Incan empire, and, well, I ended the evening with no hope, no hope, as can be expected, and yet Guillermo ended with hope…with HOPE!?! Quite naturally, we were both a little annoyed with each other.
How can we have hope in today’s day and age? Especially, how can we have hope in…humanity (the biggest misnomer ever)?  I hate to be a stickler but humans aren’t very humane.

Guillermo shrugged his shoulders and said, Creo en las cosas pequenas.  I believe in the little things. And then he went to bed.
As Guillermo surely lay dreaming of blue bunnies and pink unicorns, I burned a hole in the back of my black eye mask begrudgingly pondering his reply.
And then in spite of myself I started thinking of all the little things that I do believe in, things like…chocolate. The kindness of strangers. Kiki’s little white teeth when she smiles. Oh and the wiggle of her butt! The pop pop popcorn sound of the tide retreating on a rocky beach. Music. Sunsets. Kissing. The innocence of children. The healing powers of laughter and the wondrous magic of love! I was on a roll! 
Slowly I started to feel my mood shift. As I let the little things blossom in my heart, I could feel the expansion happening inside me, making space for hope.

And then I imagined this happening to everyone in the world at the same time, everyone simultaneously letting the little things grow big in their hearts until crack boom pow! And there’s another big bang style sudden expansion of  consciousness in the world. 

What are some of the little things in life that give you hope? We’d like to know…


Note: All the photos in this post are from our last couple days in Taganga, a beautiful town full of hope! If you like a photo, just click it to enlarge.

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  1. really cool post. I love reading your stuff.

  2. In his autobiography, Nelson Mandela wrote, “I never lost hope that this great transformation would occur. … I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there was mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. Even in the grimmest times in prison, when my comrades and I were pushed to our limits, I would see a glimmer of humanity in one of the guards, perhaps just for a second, but it was enough to reassure me and keep me going. Human goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.” (Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, p. 615)

  3. Hope: when my kids hug one another; when my son says "I love you mommy"; spending time with my family; a really good meal; kindness; smiles; a really rockin song that makes me get up and dance; a purple iridescent fish swimming by me; really good wine…. oh hell…. most any wine; a sigh of contentment; sun on my face; the smell of the ocean or rain; a job well done; sinking into my soft bed at night…. with all my pillows and my husband next to me.

    I love the notion of believing in the small things. Fantastic advice for us all.

    THANK YOU Guillermo (and Stevie).


  4. Anonymous says:

    Sanity may be madness but the maddest of all is to see life as it is and not as it should be. ~Don Quixote

  5. As Barry and I lay in bed reading your post I am given hope for our future because of the wonderful generation that is now having kids and raising a new generation of enlightened children. Barry sees hope when families come to his office and are working to care for their aging parents with love and compassion. Then there is the simply moments when my kitty comes and snuggles with me or, much to our dog,Shadows,chagrin she decides to groom him, and he lets her. Going out a picking dinner from our garden… believing that if I keep practicing my yoga I may someday be able to do a handstand, Maybe when I'm 60.

  6. not much gives me hope in the big picture, but I guess seeing acts of kindness.

  7. Holiday says:

    I can't change the World. But if I bring Hope to one person each day, then I've done my part. How many people have you impacted with this note, today.
    Hell of a great start, I'd say.

  8. Timothy Iller says:

    Both you and Tree give us hope that not everyone is allowing themselves to be sucked into the whirlpool of material life. The tide of the material world is strong, that which is not of love is powerful, but love is still far more powerful and we are reminded of this everyday in our travels. There is a shift of consciousness happening. We can see it clearly, and the beautiful thing is that it's not just in one nation or reserved for a certain people, but is happening all over the world. Keep on doing what you guys are doing. You may not see any result, but we affect everyone around us. "Even a smile is an act of charity" -Quran….I think Ghandi said it too 🙂 not sure.

  9. Scottie Hall says:

    i didn't want to write this on the blog because it's kinda crude but whenever i would use the word hope christopher turk would answer with "shit in one hand and hope in the other and see which piles up first" this used to piss me off! but eventually i kinda began to see the point. action speaks louder than the sentiment of "hope" and actually has way more use and power for all involved.

  10. Scottie Hall says:

    ug that sounds terrible -by this i mean to say, you don't have to fill your heart and mind with hope or despair if you choose not too. in some ways both are wasted and pointless emotions. even though hope has a positive connotation, actual positive action is so much more useful in making positive change, so why not focus our minds, energy and body on that instead. let's all go to university and study peacemaking! lets commune with the community that lives immediately around us and help each other live better lives! let's do it not wish it. what's the last line in rocky horror picture show? "don't dream it. be it!"

  11. Jenica Fonttenaus says:

    My beautiful Stevie,
    If you continue to perpetuate the idea and feeling of sadness, despair, and inhumanity then that's exactly what you will continue to manifest in your life and your surroundings. For every horrible thing that you see or hear of, there is an abundance of beauty to counterbalance it. When you travel the world, what do you see? What do you choose to see? There is always a choice, ALL-WAYS.

  12. Another Nica says:

    Stevie –
    Junko does hair at a salon in Venice named Lipstic,
    MY hair, to be precise.

    yes to hope and an even bigger yes
    …synchronicity 😉 <3 <3 <3

    PS I will be leaving Venice from August 6 to 11 for MGMT shows so Aaron should hopefully be ok with you on the couch 🙂 xoxoxox

  13. Emily Tarpley says:

    i love you.

  14. Anonymous says:

    My beautiful boy, Supai, the deep love I have for my very small circle of family and friends, and they for me, the prospect of adventure, still wild places, weeds…

  15. Wow!! What great responses from everyone! Thanks so much for your replies.

    @Mxikan- What a great quote Cyndi. I love it. You used to regale me Mandela quotes when I lived in Hermosa. He was, still is, and always be such an inspiration.

    @Indra- All your hopeful things give me hope too!

    @anonymous- Great Don Quixote quote! Thanks for sharing it.

    @D- Thanks Aunt Debby!And I actually think that you achieving a handstand is a reasonable outcome 🙂

    @Holiday- Thank you! And I like the creed: to give hope to others 🙂

    @Timothy- Thanks Timothy. You and your tribe give us hope too! I love that you're traveling the Americas spreadin' the love, helping to create that shift in consciousness you see happening around you. I can't help but think the two are related!

    @Scottie- I love you. And I love your comment. I can't agree more. It's no wonder we've been friends for 28 years and counting! Our sisterhood gives me hope. xoxo.

    @Jenica- I agree! That's why I'm able to live the life I live…because I genuinely trust in the goodness of my life, people included, and I do see the abundance of love and kindness around me. That being said, I also see the faces of hungry children, the homeless picking through trash, the clear cutted mountain sides and dirty dammed rivers- and I can't just not look. I owe it to myself and to the living–plants, people, and animals included–around me to see and speak the truth. And the truth is, I owe action, not hope. I'm eternally grateful for the little things around me though that give me hope so that I can face the truth and…well, change the world? 🙂

    @Veronica- No shit!! Of course Junko does your hair! Crazy serendipity. Give her my love when you see her. See you in August. xo.

    @Emily- I love you too!! Go fight win Pleasure Device!

    @Anonymous- Beautiful. Thank you kindly for your words.

    Keep 'em coming guys!! I love it!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Diggin' it Stevie! This post reminds me of a quote my mother gave me at the age of 14 – "I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again." — Little Maya gives me HOPE!

  17. @Travis- Awesome quote. And you, Pili, and Maya give us hope with the active role you take in your community, spreadin' the love. Can't wait to see you guys again.

  18. Sherry Hardage says:

    I think hope and faith are very similar. Faith is not believing that everything will be OK, but that you will be OK in spite of everything. When you are filled with hope, you believe that. Otherwise, in many cases, why would we go on? I have to remember this daily as I watch my son drop out of school, pick bad friends, make promises he doesn't keep, and live with the disagreeable consequences of it all. I have hope that he will see some personal responsibility in all that and start making different choices. He's only 20. I have a LOT of hope. Thank you so much for your blogs on the countries you pass through, and on your life experiences and your interpretations of what you see. There is so much more to come….I hope!

  19. Hey Sherry. I love the distinction that hope is not believing that everything will always be okay but believing that YOU will be okay in spite of everything. As for your son, all I can say is that I sounded an awful lot like him in my early 20s, but eventually, as you said, I took personal responsibility and completely changed the direction of my life. Now I live in a van in Venezuela, what more could a mother ask for? 🙂

  20. sunshine says:

    The mind is everything. What we think, we become. ~Buddha

    I think you guys are cultivating hope and love everywhere you go. Whether it is the people you encounter, or your virtual followers, you inject happiness into tons of lives everyday!
    Be Safe have fun! Give Kiki a squeeze for me!

    Val (SOTW/CR)

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