If asked the question ‘when does despair strike you the hardest?’, many of us will answer, ‘when the hopes were too high!’. When people hope for something to happen, the despair caused due to a delay or failure will be very high. Nothing brings down the morale of man faster than hoping for something and having it fail miserably.
The only thing worse than this can be a continuous cycle of ebb and flow, a hope and despair routine that will raise up our expectations about something to a high point, only to quash it down viciously until further hope seems impossible and foolish. But like the small shoot of greenery that comes out of gaps in concrete slabs, the human heart dares to hope again.
I don’t know why this particular snippet of mythology fascinates me – the Greek myth famously known as Pandora’s Box. The Pandora’s Box is depicted as an artifact, a jar that is called a box because it contained things inside. All the evils of the world resided in the box, which was gifted to Pandora, the first woman on earth. The tale goes that when Pandora got the jar (the long backstory is irrelevant here) with dire warnings not to open them, she could not resist opening it due to natural curiosity.
The tale further goes to say that the moment she opened, all the evils of the world including death, despair and all sorts of evils that befall the human race escaped (flew out) and unleashed their full fury or force on the unsuspecting human race. But as Pandora hastened to close the box, only one emotion remained – Hope (AKA Elpis, or expectation – thanks, Wikipedia). To this day, ‘to open a Pandora’s Box’ is a phrase that means a simple seemingly innocent act that was performed turned out to have powerful negative consequences that are far reaching and severely detrimental.
But my most favorite part of the tale is this – though all the evils flew out, only one force remained inside. It is not love (the most common ‘bonding force’ and world’s powerful… blah, blah whatever), or trust or friendship or the million other good things. The only thing that remained in the jar was hope. And if this is not a significant tale, I don’t know what is.
The human race has survived to get up after every disaster, natural or manmade because they have a resilience and survival instinct, but the basic pulling force for all this is hope. Hope comes first, and is the strongest force that keeps man going day after day to fight his battles, common and extraordinary. Hope is the feeling that remains with us at the end of the day that no matter how that day had been, the next day would bring something better.
Hope is that little feeling inside our heart, the warm glow that tells us, things will turn out well in the end, and if they do not seem to be right, it is probably not the end. No matter how many times despair pushes us down, bulldozing us to the ground with an iron fist, hope is the small voice in our head that tells us not to give up, to come out like that sapling out of concrete, like that flower in roadside bushes, like the first trickle of water to a parched land and the fine line and delicate thread that keeps us alive and gives us reason to continue.
I do not underestimate the power of other emotions, nor do I call them worthless. I just feel that hope is the underlying force that manifests itself into all these emotions, making the human race as a whole work towards a better tomorrow, despite the headlines that come on TV, despite the horrors that happen around us, despite personal failures that might pull a person down – hope is that one emotion that gives us all the other strengths we need to succeed.