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The Concerned Optimist: Hope


I break up with words. There are words that no longer serve my vocabulary and where I seek to be. The only reason I got back together with the word try is because of the song by P!nk. 

Hope. Hope is a word I have a casual relationship with. The word is excessively used, like unity. Hope and unity have become words that coddle instead of take action. It’s like resting on someone’s knee when it’s throbbing. 

Who I am to hold onto words so dearly that I would not utter them anymore? That I would stare at the text message cursor blink because I am thinking of another way to express, “I hope you feel better.” Then, I remember my love for words. Words are not to manipulate. They express an emotion, a connection. Words hold as much power from those who embody it. Hope has to evolve into more than a loaded washing machine and no one is going to wash the clothes. That is my last metaphor. 

Hope feels fleeting when there may be a national holiday for every catastrophe. Books can carry us away from our grievances. Still, their purpose is not to save us. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw is a short story collection. As hope seems to be the roof for every place of worship, I read this book enamored by realized church going people. The children and teenagers, who often narrated the actions of adults, also basked in the discoveries of being young. The characters acted, some were unashamed, some were faced with their inequities. The language of the book is visceral and spiritual, attributing to the book’s title. 

I recognize with reading that particular book hope comes with judgement, reflection, and again, action. One day, could hope feel healthy from my heart? 

I also never say never because of the iconic album by Brandy. 

What books bring your hope to action? How do you embody the words you speak?

Ashley Paul is a hopeless wanderer, baker, runner, and photographer. She is passionate about supporting high school juniors and seniors to write compelling stories for their post-secondary careers. Her favorite genres are young adult, literary fiction, and memoir.

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