Maintain Hope in Yourself and Enjoy the Journey

Welcome back!

Are we actually coming into Labor Day weekend? Is it really the “unofficial” end of summer already?

Where did it go? It seems like only yesterday that I was anticipating Memorial Day parades and 4th of July barbeques. Now…they’re just memories slipping away in my rear-view mirror. In about four quick months I’ll be saying the same thing about the upcoming holidays.

Getting older, at the very least, makes you realize how fleeting time really is, and how life is truly a “now you see it, now you don’t” proposition. Opportunities that once seemed eternal when viewed through a pair of younger eyes suddenly loom as finite and limited. Dreams of grandeur and aspirations of greatness have perhaps grudgingly given way to a stable, yet mundane, reality that we never planned on, yet have willingly accepted.

But, like summer gives way to fall and winter, and winter gives way to a new beginning with each New Year, there is always hope for change.

Ah, yes … “Hope springs eternal,” doesn’t it?

In the prison movie, “Shawshank Redemption,” ‘Red’ Redding, played by one of my all-time favorite actors, Morgan Freeman, tells his friend Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, “Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”

Andy never bought into that theory though. In fact, it was through hope alone that he even survived the 20 years he spent in Shawshank prison. Toward the end of the movie, in a letter he leaves for Red, he responds to Red’s words by saying, “Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

So as summer draws to a close and we look forward to the upcoming holiday, let’s take a brief segue from the psychological motivators we were talking about last week and instead just talk for a while today about hope…and what it means to us.

And since we now live in the age of “social transparency” (not to mention the fact that I brought up the subject…), let me be the first to start…

For me, I have to side with Andy Dufresne. (Sorry, Morgan!) I think a life without hope is a life devoid of reason and potential. Several years ago I was getting a haircut and the lady cutting my hair—a friend of the family, with kids about the ages of mine, and in large part sharing the same social and economic status as my family—said something to the effect of, “At this stage of the game we are, basically, who we’re going to be.”

I’ll never forget those words because they were perhaps the most disheartening and discouraging words I had ever heard in my life.

Not wanting (or in the mood) to get into a philosophical discussion with her about the virtues of hope for bigger and better things to come, I let the comment pass. Besides, I figured it’s always a good idea not to argue with someone wielding a sharp pair of scissors around your ears, right?

So, with discretion being the better part of valor, I kept my mouth shut. But I thought to myself, how utterly defeatist is that? I couldn’t then—and can’t now—imagine a life where hope for better things to come was relegated to an afterthought.

I always need something to strive for, something that can fuel my hope for attaining the things that I want out of life. And whether that’s to write the next great American novel or screenplay, or to realize a more fulfilling professional career as a copywriter, that, my friend, is why I practice this craft of writing and continue to strive for excellence.

Best-selling American author, Greg Anderson, once said, “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”

And really, this livelihood of earning money through our written words—a livelihood that you and I have freely chosen—is all about the journey because will we ever be truly finished? As writers, won’t we always put pen to paper (or fingers to keys…) and express ourselves through our God-given communication talents?

The way I look at it is, right now we’re paying our dues by honing our craft and learning the nuances of attracting attention, generating interest, creating desire, and eliciting action (you remember AIDA, don’t you???...). But through it all, aren’t we really just extending the essence of ourselves to those we’re trying to reach? Whether it’s a letter to our significant other, a direct mail piece, a web page, or an e-marketing letter, doesn’t our hearts reside at the root of everything we write?

And as writers, how could we ever say there’s no hope of expressing what lies in the silent recesses of our hearts? It would be like trying to stifle our very breath. Because, wealthy web writer, once you get past the fluff, once you get past the mechanics of our craft, and once you get past the limitations of language and the daily intrusions that always seem to get in the way of what we’re trying to accomplish … all you’re left with is hope … for yourself, for your family, and for the future that you’re molding. It’s a good thing, and like Andy Dufesne said, “…no good thing ever dies.”

My hope today is for your continued success. Enjoy your Labor Day weekend, be grateful for the opportunity you have to do good work, and renew your determination to make your dreams come true.

Until next week…and as always…

Good health and good writing!

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Published: September 1, 2009

4 Responses to “Maintain Hope in Yourself and Enjoy the Journey”

  1. I love reading your blog entries John - you have wonderful advice, good content, and an engaging style. Keep it up!

    Rebecca Matter

  2. Favorite post yet! We all need to keep our inspiration up. Thanks.


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