Since you asked me directly if I think you should keep on trying, I’ll answer. There's an old analogy of a three-legged table. So it goes that if any one of three legs is taken away, the table falls over.
I think life's different. It's not three-legged. It's one-legged. And that leg is hope.
Without hope, life collapses. It just falls over. It doesn’t
contemplate falling over. It doesn’t investigate means of regaining
itself. Hopelessness doesn’t inquire as to its relative strength or
weakness. Hope may have many degrees…but there is no truly relative
hopelessness. Hope and hopelessness are like a rheostat wall switch –
you may dial hope up or down, but once you hear that ‘click’ of
hopelessness, the lights are out. One has hope or one doesn’t. Remove
hope and life just falls of its own lack of raison d'etre.
So, the fact that you’re inquiring tells me you haven’t reached “hopeless”.
Simply aging has a way of diminishing hope. Simply aging has a way of
taking away the idols of our dreams. No more possibility of our rock
star, superstar athlete, noted writer, famous artist dreams. We combed
those dreams out of our heads along with the last of our graying hair.
We survived those dashed dreams of ours. Maybe that even pleasantly
humbled us. Bowing to that reality often does. And if we don’t see the
humor in our own hubris, some other kindly soul will gladly point it out
for us. We might as well laugh along. Those hopes sink into the sea of
reality….but that loss doesn’t usually leave us hopeless unless
cumulatively added to more concrete concerns. If we’ve lived this long,
we’ve probably learned the difference between adolescent dreams and real
Additionally, you already knew what everyone was
going to say before you even asked. If you’re like me, you’ve heard the
pat answers all your life. You’ve probably given them. I have. And
sometimes a fiction can get us through. Our imaginations are pretty good
at bolstering hope – false or real. Maybe. If only. Someday. When.
And the truth is, you asked people who can’t answer. Nobody here has
experienced hopelessness. You’re just asking us to opine in the
abstract. If we knew what hopelessness actually was, we wouldn’t be
around for you to ask.
As a guy whose dad waltzed himself off the
dance floor in the middle of the song, I’ve contemplated this
hopelessness thing quite a lot. I don’t think hope is something one is
talked into and out of. It didn’t work that way with him. He just
quietly one morning slipped into the garage and started the car. He
didn’t ask anyone whether or not he should. The fact that we’re having
this discussion that is essentially about hope is, I think, an indicator
that it is still present.
If you’re anything like me, this
public inquiry is quite possibly throwing down the gauntlet on God.
Many’s the time I’ve felt the urge to try to publicly shame God into
taking better care of His children – me or others. Mostly me. And, hey,
it has appeared to work. Though I can’t be absolutely sure that
correlation equals causation, I’ve seen God snap to it and take care of
I just bit the tongue I had tucked in my cheek.
Anyway, yes, the possibility – however remote – that God will fix
things does bolster hope. And I’ll go along with the others you've asked
and send my own request His way that He might consider offering you
that grace. He’s done it for me from time to time. I never deserved it.
I’m a nasty, whining, cry-baby of the lineage of Cain, Lot, Gideon and
their ilk. God chose to treat me like a Joseph anyway.
(maybe), I’m calling “bullshit” on your “comfortable with my post-life
options” (as you describe them) nonsense. Nobody is. The human condition
is ignorance. That we live lives of faith is AT THE SAME TIME both a
reason for hope AND an admission of ignorance. It humbles us to have to
admit that, but faith isn’t the end zone. Knowing is the end zone. We
don’t know. The religious are as good as any human at whistling
past the graveyard. Sure, we’ve been given an extremely vague promise of
a better life to come, and we believe it. As much as we can, anyway...
What’s that? ….you don’t think the promise is a vague one?
Look it up. It’s hardly a footnote in the Old Testament. It’s barely
described in the New Testament. It’s the very end game – the end zone –
and yet it’s one of the least known about concepts in the entire Bible.
And if your confidence comes from the perspective of a non-religious
materialist, I would only carefully observe that it was the
non-religious, not the religious, who postulated the hypothesis that the
whole religion thing with its promise of a paradise to come is but the
hopeful delusion of those uneducated primitives who in their ignorance
constructed a hope (one to answer their fears of the unknown) out of
thin air rather than a seeking for truth… …well, even if that’s
true, the observation couldn’t have been observed in the void of the
identical fears and ignorance of what’s to come. The materialist is
whistling past the same graveyard.
So, again, “bullshit”. If
you’re comfortable with your “post-life options”, you may not be paying
attention. It might just be that you have to finish your dinner before
you get dessert.
So, I guess if I were in your shoes…which I’m obviously not…I would humbly recommend “keep trying until you can’t”.