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Without Feathers

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Life without hope may be our best chance for peace.

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Are you, like John Mayer sings, “Waiting on the world to change?” Or are you trying, as Gandhi advised, going to “be the change that you wish to see in the world?” Maybe, like too many of us, you’re humming that old Dusty Springfield song, “Just wishing and hoping and thinking and praying. Planning and dreaming … ”
 
In her poem “'Hope' Is the Thing with Feathers," Emily Dickinson creates a metaphor of hope through a little bird “that perches in the soul” and “never stops — at all.” It’s always there inside. It never asks for anything, and it never takes flight. It never reacts or participates. That’s the thing about hope. It just hangs out with us, especially during dark nights. Although hope offers encouragement, it rarely mobilizes our energy or our actions. 
            
Woody Allen parodied this metaphor in his book Without Feathers about his neurotic sense of hopelessness especially in regard to God and death. It’s funny, it’s counterintuitive, and it made me wonder is the opposite of hope really despair? Or is it participation?
 
As a young girl growing up in the heart of the Bible Belt, hope was affiliated with the concept of victim: “I hope that God will hear me.” It actually lowered expectations and consciousness because hope became something that was always delayed or put on the shelf. It was about waiting for the knight in shining armor or some magical evangelical leader to be the change. In my early life experience, it taught me to give my power away. It put the responsibility on someone else — to live a life in the fading light of day. 
 
Energetically, hope is fading, a light pale orange, where expectation and participation rise exponentially at the other end of the spectrum like a bright orange sun.
 
President Obama took hope toward the other end of that spectrum when he wrote about the audacity of hope to move us forward as a nation as citizens of the world. But if we are truly willing to take big risks — to be daring, fearless brave and courageous — we must act and act consistently.
 
One way is to live daily what you say hourly — to really model all of the things that are significantly important to you. Instead of hoping one day the animals’ lives won’t be taken needlessly, live in the world of being a vegetarian. When you demonstrate your path, others may choose to join you. This is how change happens. But positive change only works if you stay in alignment with the light and be proactive in everything you do. In other words, are you the same person in your morning meditation or Wednesday evening yoga class or Sunday morning church service?
 
Don’t answer until you check your recent tweets or your latest comments on a friend’s Facebook page. Too many of us are shouting out in a persona not worthy of showing up in person. Too many of us are looking to affirm ourselves and our opinions rather than inform ourselves. To listen and learn. To stand in one another's shoes.
            
We must remember our words have everlasting power. They don’t disappear in the ethers. They stick to us. They stick to others. Consider your message. 
            
In no way does that mean to stop being bold or audacious. I want you to live your truth out loud. I want you to grow beyond hope — to move from good to amazing! 
 
So give me your pluck and your grit. Your energized and your radiant spirit. Give me your light not your life experience. Give me your peace, and I’ll join you.  
 
We don’t have to wait on the world to change.
 
Temple Hayes is ordained as both a Unity and Science of Mind minister. Hayes is 28 years sober and the author of When Did You Die?, a profound wake-up call for our emotionally and spiritually drained society. Read more in her blog, From Good to Amazing.
 
 
 

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