Excerpt for Your Daily Shot of Hope: Meditations for an Age of Despair by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


Your Daily Shot of Hope

Volume 1: Meditations for an Age of Despair


Copyright 2017 Diane Silver

Published by Diane Silver at Smashwords




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Table of Contents

Introduction

Meditations

About the Author

Other Books by Diane Silver

Connect with Diane Silver

Acknowledgements


This book would never have been written without the enthusiastic support and encouragement of Jennifer Lawler, the help of copy editor Janet Majure and cover artist Lynne Baur, and the excitement of every friend and acquaintance who urged me to actually publish that crazy book about hope I kept mentioning. Thank you all.


Introduction

We live in unsettling times. Hate appears to be ascendant. Bullying looks like the quickest path to success these days, at least in politics. And truth? Increasingly truth—the real thing based on facts and evidence—looks like an idea that is past its prime. For many of us, hope has become a fleeting memory. But can any of us survive for long without hope?

If you are among the millions who have been thrown into despair by the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, by the passage of Brexit in Great Britain, and the rise of authoritarianism and hate around the world, this book is for you. If you wonder how you can possibly keep fighting back, this book offers a place to rest, recharge, know that you are not alone, and remember that, yes, you do have the power to create change. If you are struggling with despair in your personal life, this book is also for you because ridiculous, cockeyed hope helps us heal. Hope fuels us. It enables us to go on.

It’s easy to misunderstand hope. After all, isn’t hope supposed to be something for the uninformed and the childish because who else would be silly enough to have hope in this nasty world? But I’m not talking about hope that springs from denial. True hope stands on a bedrock of nitty-gritty reality. Pretending that pain doesn’t exist doesn’t make it disappear. Claiming that the loss of a child, a spouse, a job, or our illusions isn’t really a loss doesn’t lessen our suffering. We can even make ourselves feel worse if we beat ourselves up for hurting when we think we’re not supposed to be in pain. Real hope provides room to grieve and acknowledges pain. Real hope recognizes challenges even as it thumbs its nose at the conventional wisdom that claims we can’t succeed.

Of course, there are days when the idea of hope can seem flat-out absurd. How can we trust that something good will happen, how can we maintain a feeling of trust in the future (as dictionaries define the word hope) if we don’t see the evidence that it will? But then again, how can we not hope?

Without hope, there never would have been a civil rights movement, women’s movement, LGBTQ rights movement, or labor movement. Segregation would still be the law in the United States, women wouldn’t be able to vote anywhere, same-sex marriage would be universally banned, and neither the 40-hour workweek nor protections against child labor would exist anywhere in the world. Without hope, slavery would never have been challenged and defeated, dictators would never have been overthrown, and the founding fathers and mothers of the United States would never ever have conceived of a republic based on the idea that all people are created equal. Without hope, I would never have survived a turbulent childhood or have had the energy to raise my son after my spouse died.

This modest book is the first of four planned volumes of meditations that seek to explore and evoke the feeling of hope. Each volume contains ninety-three mediations, enough for you to read one a day for more than three months. Taken together, these four volumes provide more than a year of inspiration. Consider these meditations to be like vitamin pills. Take one a day to strengthen your soul.

I composed these short poems to heal my own despair, which erupted anew on the night of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. What I experienced that night felt like the hopelessness I knew growing up with an alcoholic and abusive father. As a youngster, I constantly had to answer the question, how can I find the courage to go on? Every day brought a different answer. Some strategies worked better than others. Over time I learned that what worked best for me was to find a way to evoke a feeling of hope or love. Even a fleeting sense of one of those emotions helped. Not only did these feelings keep me upright and functioning, but they also gave me the energy to succeed in ways that seemed impossible at the time. The following meditations employ the techniques I learned. May they bring you peace and energy. Above all, may they help you find a renewed sense of hope.


How To Use This Book

There are no rules. You can read all the meditations in one sitting if you like, or take in only one each day. No matter how you choose to approach the book, however, I’ve found that I thrive when I pick one meditation a day to contemplate.

Here’s what I do. I find a quiet and private place, and sit comfortably. If I’m preoccupied, I try to set my bubbling thoughts aside. If that proves to be too difficult, then I visualize putting my preoccupations into a secure box and setting them outside the door. I promise myself that I can pick them up when I leave, although often I find that by the time I’ve finished my meditation I’ve forgotten all about my preoccupations and worries.

I read (or reread) a single meditation and then sit for a few minutes. Often I close my eyes and open myself to the feelings the meditation evokes. At first, I don’t try to analyze the meditation. Instead, I seek to smell, taste, hear, see, or feel the sensory images mentioned in the meditation. I seek to experience the emotion.

When I’ve given myself a few minutes to sit with the emotion and the images, I ask myself, how can I use this to be stronger? What can I do today to put what I feel into action?

I’m not going to lie. There are days when I struggle to find a reason to have hope. On those days, I don’t force myself to accept the idea. Instead, I take the concept of hope and a world ruled by love as hypotheses to be investigated. I ask myself, if this were true, what would I feel? What would I say and do? What would the world around me be like?

To open to hope, move to the next page.

Meditations

Day 1

Hope is warm and solid,

Expectant like the night before your birthday party,

The anticipation of presents piled high.

But that’s not exactly right

Because true hope is never greedy.

Hope is deeper and more solid than that, but what is hope to you?

Is your hope eager?

Profound?

Alive?

Find your feeling of hope right now.

Do the best you can, even if you must fake it.

Spread that feeling over you like a soft blanket.

Rest.

The time for action will come soon enough.

Day 2

When we cannot hope, we can look up.

The sky follows us on days when it hurts to breathe.

It comforts us.

Blue or gray,

There is majesty.

Wide and endless,

Room to fly.

Day 3

Some say holding on to hope

Is like trying to live out a pipe dream

Insubstantial and downright stupid,

But I disagree.

Hope,

Sweet, ridiculous hope

Is born of the ability to peer into reality

And see sun streaming bright

Through the cracks in our assumptions.

Day 4

Where did we get the idea that

The only faith that matters is faith in God?

God can be at the center of faith, of course.

If that works for you, embrace it.

But faith,

Solid, sweet, so-real-you-can-touch-it faith,

Is trust.

Nothing more.

Nothing less.

Trust that the sun will come up tomorrow,

Birds will sing shortly before dawn,

And we frail, confused humans will rise.

Day 5

Today we shall be buoyant in our hope,

Tossed atop waves,

White capped and fierce,

Roaring all around us.

We may plunge under water briefly

But we always we pop up again.

Day 6

Join me in anticipation.

Set aside your fear.

One defeat does not cement the future,

Or even two failures or more.

We go on.

Why?

Because toddlers giggle,

Waving their arms in time to music only they can hear,

And we owe them.

Day 7

Sing today of this moment,

Not tomorrow or the future,


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