What's Hope Got To Do With It?
It all started in my Tuesday night yoga class…
Katy, the most popular instructor at The Chicago Athletic Club, asked me (us) to set an intention for that evening’s practice. When I first began practicing yoga, my intention was almost always just to get through class without injury, but over time as I became more and more stressed with my work-life, setting an intention became an important part of separating my humanity from my to-do list.
Intention is something that now comes naturally for me because on the stillness of my mat, my brain yells out suggestions like the beginning of an improv show. I go with whatever word makes me feel something. Yet, after several months of setting intentions, I found it more difficult to come up with something new.
Therefore, this week’s intention is discovery.
In my time outside of work, I’ve been challenging myself to daydream more often. How am I supposed to know what’s next if I don’t know what I want? How am I supposed to know what I want without dreaming? Is it possible to dream about the future without exploring my past? The past is what makes me, me, after all.
I’ve never felt the need to ask myself to dream before. I’m sure a lot of people have felt this way -- that a certain life is chosen for you from the time you’re born until you graduate from college. For the first time in my life, I’m no longer in school and I have every freedom in the world. I’m privileged, I’m smart, I’m determined. I remember my mother telling me all my life: “You could do anything,” because she knew I was not only smart, but strong.
My parents were (and are) amazing - I grew up in a passionate home, raised by a physician father with his own clinic on the south side of Milwaukee, and a chic mother who owns a burgeoning consignment shop in the suburbs of Milwaukee. My parents are pretty rock ‘n’ roll. They showed me that there are no limits to what you want to accomplish, as long as you know what you want, but it’s that ‘knowing what you want part’ that seems to be the the toughest for not just me, but all my 20-something cohorts.
In my past I’d hoped to be a novelist, to be a poet, to live in the biggest city, to read everything by James Joyce, to always have a best friend, and to be the wife of the one and only Tom Fletcher of McFly (that didn’t happen, though I did fall in love with another Brit, and you can read about our breakup here). I hoped for my parents to stay together in the tough times. I hope(d) for my brother not to relapse again. I hope that I’ll find love, and not that storytelling meet-cute kind of love, a love that’s independent and small, yet strong. I hope that my business does well and I continue to discover new skills, mindsets, and passions.
I learned in college that some scholars believe that hope was actually a part of Pandora’s box, meaning that hope is an inherently evil intention. To me this makes sense, because it’s easy to be carried away by hopeful musings instead of seeing your reality for what it truly is. Sometimes I feel that hope is worthless, and I’m not just saying this because Tom Fletcher married someone else, but because I’m not sure if hope is a good thing or a bad thing.
So, as the person who could do anything, I’m wondering about those big hopes and wondering about those lil’ hopes. Like hoping to find the best Old Fashioned in Chicago. And hoping to get the same spot in yoga every Tuesday night. And hoping to make a name for myself.
Though I feel I have already accomplished so much, and this is the first time in my life I’ve felt stillness, is it hope or contention that I’m left to discover? Is the answer to what I’m looking to find in my future, or my past? I hope it’s both.
At the end of the day, I'm unsure of what my big hopes are, but I sure do intend to find the best Old Fashioned in Chicago.
Alexandra Gerard is a freelance hustler in Chicago, providing blogging, photography, and social media services. You can find her on Instagram: @itsyagrlgerry.