Hope Redux

I continue to wrestle with the idea of hope, still unable to pin it to the mat. I have viewed hope as a big idea and consulted the writings of thinkers I admire, those who take on the largest subjects of love and loss and everything between. I busy myself rejecting all I read, almost as a kneejerk reaction. I find the topic irritating, like earnest discussions about God.
Hope is not big at all. Hope is a small pocket of energy that becomes whatever each human carrying it around wants hope to be. Hope to me is a means, not an end. Hope is a spiritual tattoo, if you will. It is our creation, our mark on our own lives. Actually, hope is a simple idea, and I believe I am thinking it to death.
I have heard from a few others in the stem cell clinical trial at the Tisch Center. Like me, they believe they are seeing small signs of something good, producing twinges of hope. A twinge is good. A twinge is the most I expect right now. I have said numerous times that I do not expect to participate in the next Olympics. Maybe I will find stasis, a modest hope and a large victory.
Hope is fleeting, hard to grasp, difficult to hold close. I like poet Emily Dickinson’s view of hope, offered in the mid-nineteenth century:
Hope’ is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.

25 Responses to Hope Redux

  1. Rosanne January 4, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

    Glad to see your post this morning. When I got down to the bottom I said: “Yes!, I have Emily’s view of hope on my refrigerator, stapled to a post in the garage and on the inside of my bathroom medicine cabinet”. BTW, I also collect feathers 🙂

    • Richard M. Cohen January 4, 2015 at 2:37 pm #

      And what are you planning to do with them?


      • rosanne January 4, 2015 at 8:29 pm #

        LOL Richard – I actually have a collection of small wind chimes in my garage – every time I find a bird feather, I stick them in the little holes at the top of the wind chimes. I look at them every day “hoping” they were left in my path by my husband, who has passed. To some, it probably sounds silly, to me I’m “hoping” he leaves them for me 🙂

  2. KG January 4, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

    My cynical side gets pissed when I see hope used as a marketing ploy. It’s an easy way to play on people’s emotions. And sometimes it’s ok to be realistic and not rely on hope. I’m terminally ill so at this point I’m hoping for no suffering.

    • Richard M. Cohen January 4, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

      My best to you.


  3. MB January 4, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

    I hope my car starts on this subzero day…

    Do I have antifreeze in the radiator?
    Did I park my car in the garage?

    If I answered no to both or either question, my chances of a hopeful outcome diminishes. The same is true for the stem cell clinical trial. If the science didn’t support the probability of a positive outcome, there would not be funding for a trial. If the researchers were inept, there would not be a continuation of the trial.

    So when we say, I hope this trial works, perhaps we are really saying that we believe the science behind the trial could hold water because the researchers have made an intellectual determination that their theory merits further exploration; hence, Phase I, Phase II, Phase III…

    I believe hope needs to have some intellectual muscle behind it.

    • Richard M. Cohen January 4, 2015 at 8:16 pm #

      No argumen.


  4. Sandy January 4, 2015 at 9:15 pm #

    I have no trouble being hopeful. Its my nature.

    I have noticed though that from time to time I tend to be more than a bit superstitious.

    But then to quote Michael Scott from “The Office’….”I am not superstitious….I am just a little stitious.”

    Maybe hope is just superstition with a positive twist.

    • Richard M. Cohen January 5, 2015 at 6:48 am #


      Maybe not.


  5. Louise January 4, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

    I love the Emily Dickenson poem. I agree with you that a discussion of Hope can be like a discussion of God. How about we think of Hope as being like the grace of God; good to have, bad to be without and nobody can say exactly what it is.

    • Richard M. Cohen January 5, 2015 at 6:49 am #

      Or if it exists.


  6. Amy Corcoran-Hunt January 5, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

    I think hope is this thing you carry around because what else are you going to do? A little optimism. Why not. Is disappointment really the worst that can happen? I’ve had a bunch of the worst that can happen. What are they going to do to me now? Really? So I carry around a little hope.

  7. Carol January 6, 2015 at 5:14 am #

    Glad you are seeing some benefit from the stem cell clinical trial. I am currently on tysabri…I am sure i will need something else at some point in the future. Thanks for giving stem cells a try.

    • Richard M. Cohen January 6, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

      A privilege.


  8. David January 7, 2015 at 4:32 pm #

    Do we have Hope naturally or is it a decision to have hope?So many of us are desperate and that makes hope easier to come by, necessary to survive.For me a spiritual aspect is always there and gives me comfort.I don’t know enough about GOD but I do believe.

    I also believe when we find a human that has all the answers we should always put our hands on our hearts and wallets.

    So we keep on thinking and sharing.

    I do believe we all are significant.

    Keep your Hope because even if you lose Hope, someone will Hope for you,guaranteed!

    • Richard January 8, 2015 at 9:27 am #

      Thanks. You are right about those with all the answers.


    • Richard January 8, 2015 at 9:28 am #


      Thanks. You are right about those with all the answers.


  9. terry schaefer January 8, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

    this is a beautiful post, richard. hope is what gets me up in the morning as christo battles each day. and yes he struggles mightily to hold onto it, as he challenges it’s “intellectual muscle”. and yes, faith, i deeply believe, can ease that struggle, if you let it. i just pray mine helps him.

    • Richard January 11, 2015 at 9:24 pm #

      Hey, Terry-

      Hold on tightly. Hope is tough to hold close and sustain.


  10. Kate Aquilino January 9, 2015 at 1:12 pm #

    I was wondering how you were doing. I read about a small clinical trial that had great success. I don’t think it was yours but it sounds like you survived the treatment. That’s a step in the right direction.

    Years ago, while recovering from the myelogram which diagnosed MS, I stitched a sampler and used a Dickinson quote.

    That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.

    • Richard January 11, 2015 at 9:26 pm #



  11. Kate Aquilino January 9, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    I believe hope is a gift from God.

    • Richard January 15, 2015 at 6:51 am #

      And I will defend your right to believe it.


  12. Margaret Heard January 26, 2015 at 11:39 am #

    Hope is up there with love no matter one’s faith or lack of it. I’m hoping you pass on to me some wisdom that will help me deal with the anger associated with my son’s MS. We took care of his children many hours a week from birth until ages 4 and 6, and then he and his wife moved far away. They’ve not allowed us to see our grandchildren now for over two years. He has said we are not managing some inherited family money competently and that we have other terrible faults. He was diagnosed 6 years ago via a brain scan and still has not developed any physical limitations as far as I know.

  13. Mary April 25, 2015 at 10:50 pm #

    My husband suffers from Cidp which is said to be the other evil of MS. CIDP effects the peripheral nerves and so it has very similiar symptoms of ms, Demyelinating, loss of feeling, tingling, constant fatigue and pain…. The list goes on and on.
    I was wondering… Do you qualify for the clinical trials being done by Dr. Richard Burt in Chicago? The 5. Year sudy results in the 21Jan JAMA are promising.
    Best wishes