I’m enjoying this World Series match-up – two teams that haven’t won a title in, well, practically forever. It’s perfect.
First to reach the World Series were the Indians, who haven’t won the championship since 1948 – before I was born. They’ve made it to the World Series a few times since, and lost each time. Once, they were within three outs of winning it, and they blew it.
And then there are the Chicago Cubs, whose litany of coming up short goes back for more than a century and defined them as lovable losers. They haven’t won the Series since 1908. They got there a lot in the first half of the last century, and lost each time.
The Cubs, too, have their long history of heartbreak and goat curses, foul balls and excruciating endings.
Next week, one of them will be celebrating a title they thought might never come in their lifetimes. The other will start thinking about next year … or maybe next decade … or century.
We’re all about hope
Either way, it will be about hope finally fulfilled, or hope still striving. Hope will be front-and-center, as it always is.
As humans, we’re all about hope.
Hope is as crucial to us as food and oxygen. When we lose hope, we wither. Parts of us die. Faith, hope and love are woven into our nature; to lose one of them is to lose an important part of who we are.
It’s like a trinity. Or, a double-play combination – shortstop to second base to first. All three are needed.
Faith pulls us outside of our narrow selves into something much grander. Hope energizes and nurtures us. Love fulfills us and unites us. We need all three.
I think there’s a common misconception about hope. We tend to think of it as dependent upon a certain outcome. We hope for that final out, raising that final pennant. But that’s not really what hope is about.
Hope isn’t about what happens someday. It’s about what we do today and why we do it.
Hope is about today, not someday
One of the things that struck me about the Cubs is how they took the time to celebrate each of their 103 victories in the regular season. Their clubhouse pulsated with music and cheers and dance for 10 or 15 minutes after the final out. Their manager, Joe Maddon, called it a key ingredient in their overall accomplishment – taking the time to fully relish each day’s small victory.
Good advice for all of us, no matter our circumstance.
Life is so big and full of so much – smiles and tears, steps and stumbles, confusion and clarity, accomplishment and failure. We can fall into the trap of setting long-term goals and losing sight of the importance of today.
Hope is always about today. It’s about savoring each small victory, absorbing each setback, and moving forward to make our world a little bit better in some way.
Savoring each day’s small victories
Hope embraces all of it and keeps going. It’s never contingent upon a certain outcome.
One of the most telling vignettes of hope comes from Nazi camp survivor Viktor Frankl. He vividly describes the importance of hope in what seemed like a hopeless situation. Those who lost hope quickly died. Others held onto hope as long as they could and tried to help other prisoners in whatever way they could. They made their lives about each moment, each day.
They lived with audacious hope, knowing that their lives might soon end.
Of course, there are those who spend a lot of time trying to extinguish hope. They try to foster a sense of hopelessness so that they can manipulate us. They tell us that they’re the only ones who can save us.
It’s so toxic.
Instead, we need to live in hope.
When this World Series ends, one city will be delirious over a long-awaited achievement. The other will start thinking about next year. Two sides of the coin of hope.
Same for us.
Flying the flag
Maybe we’ll get to hold the trophy or fly the ultimate victory flag someday. Or maybe not. In the end, that part doesn’t really matter all that much. What matters is putting ourselves fully into today: Celebrating the small victories, absorbing the setbacks, and moving on to the next glorious moment.
Flying that flag every day.