|Flamingo feather from La Camargue, France|
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
LUCY BURDETTE: One of the remarkable things we saw on our vacation last month were these locks, attached to two bridges that cross the Seine River in Paris. The legend goes that lovers write their names on the lock (or sometimes make another kind of wish), then snap them onto the fence along the bridge and throw away the key.
Which reminded me of seeing Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree project in the sculpture garden of the Museum of Modern Art in New York several years ago. Here were the instructions: “Make a wish. Write it down on a piece of paper. Fold it and tie it around a branch of the wish tree. Ask your friend to do the same. Keep wishing.”
We did not add a lock to the bridge, but I definitely added a paper to the wishing tree. And I say prayers when I remember. And I cross my fingers and knock wood when I need to.
Last week, I came across another interesting article in one of my professional psychology magazines. The subject was research on hopefulness, as distinguished from optimism (a general feeling that good things will happen) and wishing. “Hope is different because it has to do with facing reality,” says Jon G. Allen, PhD, a senior staff psychologist at The Menninger Clinic. “As I see it, hope is motivation to stay in the game.” He went on to explain the three important components of hope: optimism, social support, and setting goals.
I think I’m a pretty hopeful person, though realistic too. I hope like heck my next book will make it to the New York Times bestseller list (right after Julia’s!), but I’m not sitting around waiting for it to happen. And I’m thinking of a plan in case it doesn’t...But most important of all, I’ve surrounded myself with positive, supportive people--starting with the Jungle Reds!
How about you guys? Hopeful? Any special tips for keeping that state of mind going?
And PS, after writing this, I heard the news about the disaster in the Philippines. Those folks really need some hope right now. Here are a few places where you can donate money and feel confident that it will get where it's needed: the United Church of Christ, the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders.