Saturday, July 12, 2014


The graduation was great, though not your usual event. It's different at a therapeutic school.

I sat in the audience, aware that every single person in the room had known deep suffering: every student, every mom, every dad, every sibling, every relative. I wondered what the cumulative number of suicide attempts had been, the number of days spent in hospitals, the number of tears sobbed, the hours of therapy logged. It was intensely moving to consider how impossibly hard these kids -- and parents -- had worked just to get to a life that approximated what others think of as normal.

If you'd told me four years ago that Big Guy would be a) alive, b) graduating, and c) going to college on a merit scholarship, I probably would have grunted, acknowledging the possibility but assuming nothing.

In the midst of dark times, placing you don't place your hope in a pinprick of light that you can't see at the end of a seemingly infinite and pitch-black tunnel that you don't know how to navigate.

In dark times, hope is about focusing on what you can do now. Hope is choosing not to see all the fears and troubles that might become realities, and instead responding to what is asked of you in this moment. Hope is about how you handle the intense mix of feelings that you would do anything to jettison, but can't. It lies in figuring out what you will do to stay strong and sane and true to what you believe, in deciding who you will be regardless of the outcome.

Hope isn't about what you want, but about the direction you will head even if you don't get what you want.

Another analogy: When your ship is in the midst of a fierce storm, wishing desperately for the clouds will part and a well-lit port will appear isn't hope. You've got work to do, crises to manage, crew to keep safe. Hope is like ballast: the stuff that keeps you on as even a keel as possible. Hope is about your center of gravity.