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Nick Ang

Stop saying 'I hope'

When a boy says “I hope that the weather will be nice tomorrow,” he has effectively cast a spell of expectation on himself. This spell only unravels when the outcome is observable; that is when the next day has come and the weather conditions are apparent.

If the weather is nice tomorrow, the spell is lifted and it might deliver a sense of satisfaction to the boy. Of course, it could also be lifted without the boy noticing anything, the same way candlelight vanishes when it’s at the end of its time, softly and without announcement.

But if the weather turns out to be unpleasant, the spell spirals into a tiny vortex, sucking something with it before it disappears into the ether. That something, now whisked away, will leave the boy in disappointment.

I hope my colleagues are nice.

I hope that we’re having a girl.

I hope you had a good weekend.

While hope marches forward with time to discover its destiny, the hoping boy is, paradoxically, hopelessly in limbo. “I have already hoped. That’s all I can do,” his thinks subconsciously. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

But the boy who does not hope is not hopeless. No, he would just be engaged with what is in the present instead, and in doing so, he sidesteps anticipation and prevents disappointment. It’s the difference between action and inaction.

Instead of “I hope,” perhaps he might choose his words more carefully, saying “It would be nice if the weather were good tomorrow.” At this point, however, the spell is still cast all the same.

But if he had used those words, something would probably bubble up from within and he might follow it up with, “but if it isn’t, so be it.”

Eventually, he comes to see that “I hope” has no bearings on the eventual outcome of the thing that is being hoped for, and he might just stop saying “I hope” altogether. And his world becomes better because he would finally see the truth as clear as day.

So be it.


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