Active Hope


I believe that the ultimate tragedy in life is not physical death. Rather, it is the spiritual death of losing hope, giving up on our own possibilities for growth. The problems that face our world are daunting in their depth and complexity. Sometimes it may be hard to see where or how to begin. But I’m doing my best not to be paralyzed by despair. 
Instead, I’m trying to take action toward the goals I’ve set and in which I believe rather than passively accepting things as they are. One major aspect of this action is to take care of my physical health by working out at Island Fitness on a regular basis. Over the last 13 years, I have found that it is in these kinds of seemingly small efforts that true undying hope is to be found.

Václav Havel, the former president of Czechoslovakia, in his essay, “Orientation of the Heart,” describes hope as “a state of mind, not a state of the world.” Further, Havel says hope allows one to live with “dignity and meaning” in situations where both are in short supply, for example in his experience of Soviet suppression under seemingly impossible circumstances.

Two years ago I became the recipient of a Medicare card and found myself yet again pondering the meaning of life. A friend reminded me that age is not an excuse for giving up. Allowing myself to grow passive and draw back is a sign of personal defeat. There may or may not be a retirement age at work, but there is no retirement age in life.

Observing my wife, Trude, train with Diane for many years has been a great example of never losing hope. There have been ample times when her MS symptoms and fatigue could justify staying home. But, she rarely does! I have so much respect for the many Island Fitness members like her who I see day in and day out not giving in to despair.

Hope is akin to trust. If we could see it, there’d be no need for trust or hope. But, hope is not avoiding what is going on in the world. Instead, fostering hope involves looking directly at our reality and making the decision to improve it. 

The kind of hope I am referring to is not grounded in wishful thinking. In fact, powerful hope—what’s been called ‘active hope’—may not be possible without going through despair. It is during the darkest days that we need to persevere—trusting that hope is ahead.

Hope is a promise that the worst thing is not the last thing. This promise, that there is always a way out of the muddy swamp of daily life, can give us the power to proceed. And is what we mean when we talk about hope as a resource deep within us that has the power to transform ourselves and the world around us.

Island Fitness is the sponsor of the Good Karma Blues concert (Michael Almodovar, Mike Lisagor, Joe Van Dyke, Elray Konkel, Shannon Dowling and Justin Petri) to benefit Bainbridge Youth Services on Sunday, June 4 at 7 p.m. at BIMA. Purchase tickets here.

More of Mike’s writing as well as several videos of his speeches and one-man show can be found here.

By Mike Lisagor