Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Carrie was overwhelmed by depression. It was as if she was wearing glasses that showed her the world with all the hope and joy filtered out, and you can’t plan the future when you see only that. So she was sent out to take pictures of hope. I wonder what pictures you would take if you were sent on that mission.

Carrie photographed the old bird her father left in her care when he died a few months ago. . She photographed a street lamp shining in the dark. She took pictures of a tree that had once been cut off at the stump, and later struck by lightning, and was still growing. Then she turned and took pictures of her dog, who was watching her take pictures, and hoping she would soon be finished so they could go for a walk.

The exploding international field of hope research is providing my research colleagues and me with a wealth of ideas about how to make hope practical to help people at times when they need it most. We make meaning around acts of hope. We study language to see what we can say to give people hope. We work with symbols, like the hope-opotamus. And sometimes hope is a catalyst for goal setting. But for those of you who aren’t the type to set goals, I want to say that in all the plans and dreams I had for my future, I never once imagined that someday I would be a psychologist with a whole herd of hope-opotamuses.

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