The brand new year somehow puts pressure on us or traps us into setting resolutions that we are likely to abandon; and for many it is a time where they feel forced to muster up the excitement for the year ahead.
In the last few years too, with Covid19, and the myriad of challenges so many of us are navigating, it seems more challenging to be exuberant about a new year. In the face of the need to conform to prevailing practices accompanying the new year, the alternative is to call in hope as a means to focus our energies and attentions. Anne Lamott speaks hope beginning “in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come… You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” (Anne Lamott)
The concept of hope as “revolutionary patience” (coined by feminist writer Dorothee Soelle) does have a welcome ring of rebellion to it, the act of claiming patience in the face of the uncertainty of the new year. As we sit through the discomfort of the current moment, waiting to transition to a “new normal”, still reeling from two years in lock-down and a year of frantic activity to catch up, and as we continue to be confronted by the many inner and outer manifestations of an oppressive system trying to maintain control, revolutionary patience feels like the gift we all yearn for. In this moment, so many of us are trying to adjust to the newness of the year, and we feel the pressure to go faster, to do more, to meditate dream up new goals and actions, live up to values, and to show up for relationships. Yet we are tired.
In this moment, my invitation to myself and all of us is to start the year off by calling in hope and building on hope as part of our revolutionary practice of self love and care for 2023. Hope provides us with the gravitas, and inspiration to dig deep and remain connected to our experience and show up fully for ourselves this year. In those moments when we wish to withdraw, where we wish to abandon or jump ship, hope is that beacon that keeps us focused. As simple as it sounds, the practice of hope requires all of our faculties, but, it is so worth it.
Instead of making 2023 about greatness, lets make it about hope. How can we do it?
#1: Build your hope muscle
Each day, take at least 5 minutes to connect to what it is you feel hopeful about. Hope does not happen all by itself, we need to carve out space and time, and we need to build the muscle that allows us to tune into hope effortlessly. If hope is to become an embodied practice, we need to build up our body, mind and heart’s resilience in a life affirming way rather than merely pushing through and enduring. Grounding practices invites us into a resilience of joy, rest, reflection and nurturing rather than something that props us up to keep serving an unjust system
#2: Read or watch inspirational stories
Inspiration is the fuel of hope. By connecting to the stories of change, transformation, and resilience, it keeps us inspired. Inspiration is also a means to keep us going as we remain in relationship to our work of transforming our worlds and our lives.
#3: Don’t give up
Continuing to act is how we keep hope alive and create transformation rather than blindly hoping that things will get better while turning a blind eye to injustice. Even if you need a time out or a break, take it. But when you are ready again, get back into it. Embodying hope means taking small consistent steps even when we do not see the results yet.
#4: Celebrate small victories
Revolutionary hope also teaches us to celebrate the small victories before getting back to work the next day. Joy shared is joy doubled. Revolutionary hope is never satisfied with the status quo, but it also takes the time to celebrate partial and flawed victories with the people we love admire and inspire.
#5: Building hopeful community
Just as we need a village to raise a child, we need a community to help us embody change and sustain hope while doing so. Revolutionary hope is a practice done with others, not just in our movements but also while holding the hands of a struggling friend or celebrating a long worked towards graduation with a family member. Can we find ways, as communities, to speak of our collective hope together?
As you move through 2023, my wish is that you are constantly in conversation with yourself, asking: ‘What does hope look like in this place right now? . Right now, is one of those exceptional times where our hope needs to be intentional; we need to nurture, grow and speak of it – together.