"I am not a hopeful person by nature. When things get tough I am easily tempted to believe that the jig is up. I foreclose on the future all too soon. If my team is not ahead by at least two touchdown in the final five minutes of play, I hear defeat blowing in the winds. In my marriage I have often had to be rescued from my own pessimism by Doris's power to hope that there were good possibilities within the worst of our problems. I sometimes suspected that she was denying reality. But she was not denying: she really saw possibilities to which my despair had blinded me.

"Out of my private struggles with despair, I have come to see that hope is the final secret of all commitment.

"When two people are committed to each other, when the innerspring of their commitment is care, each for the other, there are possibilities in the toughest situations. Not certainties. But possibilities. Not possibilities of things being all we've ever wanted them to be. But possibilities of things becoming better than they are. Good enough to make the future together, as friends, as partners, as family, better for having kept on caring for each other just a little more than we care for ourselves.

"In sum, what I've been saying here is that commitments live on hope. Not on duty, not on what we are obligated to do, but on hope for what we can do. And for what others can do for us. Hope is the alternative to the seductions of the uncommitted life.

"Hope is energy.

"Hope is energy to cope when life gets tough. And, when you get down to brass tacks, it is the energy we need for commitment keeping in a world where somebody, at any moment, may rain on your parade."