"Hope springs from that which is right in front of us, which surprises us, and seems to work
— Annie Lamott
A teacher gives it all she's got and hopes that her enthusiasm for learning has lit a fire inside her students. A hospice nurse hopes that the people in her care will have the best possible quality of life right up until they die. A human rights activist in prison hopes that he will be freed soon to resume his work.
Like us, these individuals are animated by hope, which Czechoslovakian playwright and politician Vaclav Havel maintains is "a dimension of the Spirit. It is not outside us but within us."
In this book subtitled "Notes on Hope," bestselling author Annie Lamott reveals that she just turned 61 and is ready to share some of her ideas, ideals, experiences, stories, and whatever else shows up in the process. She wants to make a list for her grandson and niece. She observes that "there is so much going on that flattens us, that is huge, scary, or simply appalling. We're doomed, stunned, exhausted, and overcaffeinated." After that, we can't wait to hear what she comes up with to inspire and encourage us.
In many of her previous books, Lamott has wrestled with her feelings of self-dismay and self-destruction. Here she deals with a family feud with an uncle, a dear atheist friend who commits suicide, and the time and energy she spends in "her own private hate workshop."
"Help is the sunny side of control."
— Annie Lamott
From Lamott's perspective, almost everything has something to recommend it. Both yin and yang elements are present in her essays and memoirs. She salutes the pleasures to be had in joy and the life-affirming riches she discovers in stories. (See the excerpt).
In a bravado essay titled "Hope," the author brings negativity and the bright side together.
"Life is way wilder than I am comfortable with, way farther out, as we used to say, more magnificent, more deserving of awe and, I would add, more benevolent — well-meaning, kindly. Waves and particles, redwoods, poetry, this world of wonders and suffering, great crowds of helpers and humanitarians, here we are alive right now, together. I worry myself sick about the melting ice caps, the escalating arms race, and the polluted air as I look forward with hope to the cleansing rains, the coming spring, the warmth of summer, the student marches. John Lennon said, 'Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end,' and as this has always been true before, we can hope it will be again.
"We have all we need to come through. Against all odds, no matter what we’ve lost, no matter what messes we’ve made over time, no matter how dark the night, we offer and are offered kindness, soul, light, and food, which create breath and spaciousness, which create hope, sufficient unto the day."