F#@* Hope

I got a charm bracelet for Christmas that read “F hope.” It has been an inspiration to me, and  I want to share with you the story behind it and how it supports me each day to stand up and act out my convictions in the world.


For the last six months, my mother has been into charm bracelets. I decided that if I were to get one, I wanted something that would be inspirational and a reminder on how I wanted to live life. I was thinking through different inspirational sayings, and I remembered a powerful statement from Pema Chrodron in her book, When Things Fall Apart :

As long as we’re addicted to hope, we feel that we can tone our experience down or liven it up or change it somehow, and we continue to suffer a lot. In a nontheistic state of mind, abandoning hope is an affirmation, the beginning of the beginning. You could even put “Abandon Hope” on your refrigerator door instead of more conventional aspirations like “Everyday in everyway, I’m getting better and better.” We hold onto hope and it robs us of the present moment. If hope and fear are two different sides of the same coin, so are hopelessness and confidence. If we’re willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be exterminated, then we can have the courage to relax with the groundlessness of our situation.

The statement resonated with me, and so I told my mom that I wanted a bracelet that said, “fuck hope.” I explained to her that hope is the other side of fear, a delusion that is often not based in reality, and as long as we live through that, we will not be in the present moment. That was in October – before the election – and then she actually got me the bracelet for Christmas.

My first reaction was a bit stunned. I had only really thought about the quote from a superficial level. Yes, I agree that you do not want to live in delusion, but do I really want to FUCK hope? Many teachings like this I feel like I agree with in principle, think that I should really ponder it a bit more- and don’t. Getting this bracelet made me step up to this opportunity, and start thinking through my thoughts, feelings, and convictions a bit deeper. Explore what it means to fuck hope.

First, I am a proud Quaker, and a core conviction in my life is that there is that there is that of God/Spirit/ability to transform in every person and situation. Recognizing that there is that of God/Spirit/ability to transform, I believe that healing is possible and everyone deserves respect by their nature of being alive. As soon as I got this bracelet, I started to question how abandoning hope clashed or agreed with this core conviction. I started to realized that I often put too much faith that things will magically get better. Even though a situation can transform, I have a responsibility to connect with the Spirt within me and to step up when I feel called. I cannot put too much faith in the universe when it comes to my life, society, and the future of the planet. That said, I can also have that faith that the movement will continue when I need to take time and heal.  I am still part of a movement and a community, and I can still rest in the faith that others will also stand up to the call within themselves.

Second, I tend to err on the side of politics of respectability and I strive for non-violence.   The “F” in the bracelet is for “Fuck” and this made me uncomfortable. I initially told myself that it could be “Forget” and not “Fuck.” However, as I continued to think about it and sit in my own discomfort, I realize that my desire to wash it was aligned to the politics of respectability that is currently being used to delegitimize movements. People are saying that certain speech and actions are should not be heard because they do not meet a set standard.  These standards are rooted in a history of racism, sexism, and colonialism.  I am sure that the reason that the word “Fuck” bothers me, is very likely rooted in the puritan and colonial history of America. This is same history that has done so many injustices in the world. I am called to be a bit uncomfortable and now this bracelet be a reminder that it is okay to feel uncomfortable.  It instigates a primal emotion within me – and that is kinda what I am going for… So the word “Fuck” is important.

Third, I have a fairly established mindfulnees meditation practice and connect with many Buddhist teachings. There is a vow taken by many Buddhists to attain enlightenment, the bodhisattva vow. It essentially states:

Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to save them all.

Desires are inexhaustible; I vow to put an end to them.

 The dharmas are boundless; I vow to master them.

 The Buddha’s Way is unsurpassable; I vow to attain it.

I see working within this non-dual state of being, an openness that embraces the paradox that a task is completely hopeless and having the commitment and determination to end it, is the state of being that we need to heal the world.

One thing I learned from a weeklong, silent, love and kindness, retreat in December, is that the mind has a problem with paradoxes, but the heart can embrace them. The mind looks at a hawk swooping down at a mouse and attempts to pick sides. If one wishes the hawk health, then the mouse must die. If one wishes the mouse safety, the hawk will be hungry. The heart does not have such boundaries; the heart is fully capable of wishing the hawk health simultaneously wishing the mouse safety. The power to love can be present in any situation and is only limited by the mind.

Going back to my bracelet, after these contemplations, I see the bracelet as a symbol:

  • To recognize and respect that of God in each person.
  • To not put all my faith that God will magically appear, but that I have a responsibility to engage life to support the transformation I yearn to see in the world
  • That I am a part of a community, and we can carry the torch forward as others rest
  • That it is okay to feel uncomfortable and challenge our preconceived notions, as our notions may be linked to our history that is full of pain and injustice
  • That even though the world is full of suffering and over coming is impossible, the heart can hold both the feelings of hopelessness and still have the love, determination, and commitment to ending injustices
  • To choose to live through the heart

I hope that this bit of reflection supports you and your journey. I would love to hear your thoughts, and especially your contemplations on some of these topics.  I recognize it is challenging a some notions people may have about hope and such… I would love to engage in thoughtful and wholehearted responces.