Fear and hope are alike beneath it.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
     Usually, the illustrations that accompany my posts are my own. I have written about this in the FAQ’s section, but to summarize; my drawings are awful. I know it, you know it. However, art was once a big part of my life. There were experiences and thoughts I would not have been able to express in another way without it. As I grew older, I lost touch of that part of myself. That artistic aspect, without so much of a yelp or whine, simply faded away without my awareness or intent.
     Then I read Rollo May’s The Courage to Create. This work was a challenge to reclaim a part of myself long abandoned. Every time I publish a post with one of my illustrations, it is a stretch. There is an element of shame and embarrassment with each one! And that is precisely the point of publishing them. 
     However, on this rare occasion, I’m off the hook. I recently had the privilege to dialogue with an incredible artist named Nicola Samori regarding his piece: L’Occhio Occidentale (The Occidental Eye). To me, it is a fascinating study in hope. A man, shrouded in shadow, reaching up and out with hard-worked hands, looks to the sky with a stone face; not fully formed. Or not yet carved. As one hand reaches out, another reaches in. There is fear. There is also hope.

     When working with clients and discussing hope, therapists must be sensitive to the reality that hope can be a burden. Sometimes, it is too heavy a burden. In those times, the healthy response of the therapist must be the placeholder for hope and then provide it in small doses to families and individuals as they come to us. We must always have hope.

     Hope is never fully formed. Like the man in shadow, it sits reaching out, and in, waiting to come to fruition. There is no certainty where hope exists. This is the dialectic tension which exists in the relationship between hope and certainty. Where there is certainty there is no need for hope. Where there is hope, there is also fear. If we hope for one outcome, in the same breath we are stating we are fearful the alternative may occur. But in this very tension there exists a positivity!

     Within every fear there is a positive hope. There is a distinct difference between a negative hope (“I hope something bad does NOT happen.”) and a positive hope (“I hope something good DOES happen!”). A negative hope does not instill peace. Instead, it encourages nearly non-stop avoidance. A negative hope does not facilitate calm, but creates anxiety. Positive hope is a meaningful goal or practical dream! Goals, when they are congruent with our values, can be a boon to any individual or family, when they are ready to create them.

Negative hope says, “I’ll never let that happen again”.

Positive hope says, “I’ll do better next time”.

     A special thank you to Nicola Samori for taking time to discuss his painting with me and providing permission to use it in this post. 

 L’Occhio Occidentale (The Occidental Eye), 2013, Oil on copper. by Nicola Samori