Tuesday 18 Jun 2024

‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers & let it fly from one to the other

All of us understand the word ‘hope’ much better now than before because we have hoped and come this far through the scaring pandemic


All of us understand the word ‘hope’ much better now than before because we have hoped and come this far through the scaring pandemic. Hope gives us the motivation to make our way through the storm and get to our goals. Barbara Fredrickson would say that hope is that which becomes active when there is gloom, or crisis and conflict surrounding us.

 Charles R Snyder, a specialist in positive psychology, studied the impact of hope and found out that there are three things that make for a hopeful person i.e. goals, pathways and agency. Goals are those which we want to achieve or rather plan to achieve in years. Pathways are ways and means we utilize to achieve the goals we have in mind. Agency is the belief that for certain one will achieve the goal that is set.

Brett Haley directed an American Drama film ‘All together Now’ based on the book by Matthew Quick titled, ‘Sorta Like a Rockstar.’ Wherein, Amber Appleton (acted by Chloe Cravalho) the protagonist becomes the representation of Hope. And her mother Becky (acted by Justina Machado) is someone who wants to work hard but loses her battle as she gives up hope. Amber Appleton employs the ‘agency thinking’ by believing that she will achieve her goal and get selected for the audition at Carnegie Mellon University for the drama programme. So, she employs all her energies towards collecting the money necessary to make it to the university and buy herself and her mother a happy home to live.

Carnegie Mellon University is important to her as it was her late father’s alma mater. They need a happy home as they are currently taking shelter in a school bus. The various activities or jobs that Amber Appleton does are teaching English as a second language, volunteering at an Old Age home, helping Joan, and finally planning on the school variety programme.

Amber is invited for the audition by the university. She spends all the money earned so far on the ticket to Pittsburgh. When everything is going on smoothly Amber notices her mother Becky disorienting herself from the goal they have set together, of earning and buying a home. Becky wants to get back with Oliver, her boyfriend, who is an abuser. Becky thinks that everything will be alright if both of them stay with Oliver. But for Amber, that is where the problem begins. Amber feels insecure to stay with Oliver and therefore denies the offer. And on one day, both Becky and Oliver meet with an accident and die.

Amber although guesses that they might have drunk and met this fate, she finds herself responsible for the death of her mother. She punishes herself. When she had to travel for the audition she notices that her pet dog Bobby Big Boy is sick and therefore she takes the dog to the veterinarian. And in the process misses the flight. She rejects going for the audition at the Carnegie Mellon University, drops out of the school and works full time to earn money for the surgery of her dog. At first, she was a beacon of hope to others around her. But now she needs someone to work out ways for her, to be her ‘pathway thinker’. And Ty (acted by Rhenzy Feliz) becomes her pathway thinker who despite odds finds ways to help Amber. Ty organises a fundraiser programme during the variety show at school to help Amber meet her requirements. The hope that she lost after the death of her mother is regained by the act done by Ty.

Through the fundraising, Amber gets more than the amount required by the generous contribution of the viewers or the audience present and also through Joan who by now considers Amber her family. Amber is filled with new vigour to continue to be the messenger of hope to those who are struggling in their lives. Because she believes in the poem by Emily Dickinson, “Hope” is the thing with feathers. “Hope” is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all. And sweetest in the Gale is heard and sore must be the storm that could abash the little Bird that kept so many warm. I’ve heard it in the chillest land and on the strangest Sea yet never in Extremity, It asked a crumb of me.”

Hope is that feeling that never asks for a favour in return but you still keep continuing the good work you do towards the other. You are loving and kind to the other all through. You search for ideas that could enhance your skills and be of help to the people around. Hope feels one with the enthusiasm to be positive in the wake of negativity. Hope makes you happy. What we ought to do is find hope even in the scariest of times. Not all of us can sustain it, but when we do, we need to enthuse the other and the other will come of help to us when we need it the most. We may not be able to repay one another for the hope that we exchange, but we can always take the hope and make the best of it and gift it to those we meet. Let ‘hope’ fly from one to the other as it is a thing with feathers. And it is only ‘hope’ that will hopefully keep us happy.

(The writer is a priest belonging to the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottine). He is currently studying for an M.A. English Literature degree at Parvatibai Chowgule College, Margao)

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