Desperation… It conjures up images of a salty body prone in the sand, baking under a scorching, desert sun, dry-mouthed, too hot and dehydrated even to sweat; after hours walking, hours crawling, hours struggling to continue in search of respite, now resigned to fry and dry up like old cafeteria food under a heat lamp sun, a french fry.
That’s desperation, from the Latin desperare meaning a lack of hope.
What is it about the desert scene we’ve imagined that makes it so desperate?
Instead of a french fry, imagine Francois is now Farah, a Bedouin born and raised under that same sun amid those same sands. He doesn’t search for respite, because he doesn’t see his environment that way. Does he have hope? Perhaps, we simply don’t know. Absent a negative view of his situation, hope becomes irrelevant. It’s something we only think about when we’re suffering. When we change our perception of the context in which we find the subject of our speculation, the sense of desperation changes.
The real problem for our deserted Francois isn’t his lack of hope, it’s the fact that he ever had any at all. Hope, because it is a product of a dualistic worldview, creates a vicious cycle. It implies a negative world that we have to hope will improve. When it doesn’t, we languish in despair.
This is why I try not to hope and instead abide in a knowing that everything is perfect as it is. To hope diminishes the majesty of existence. It throws me out of the present stream of the living moment and casts my world into the cold shade of my desires. Better to embrace the shadows, lest our endless obsession with the light leaves us burned up and charred in the desert we’ve created for ourselves.
Oh to truly be hopeless, that I might finally be content!