On Hope

On Hope

Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists adopt the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It is the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand.

~Rebecca Solnit

I learned today that I have cancer. Two biopsies both came back positive – one for squamous cell carcinoma, the other for melanoma.

Earlier this morning, I was listening to an On Being podcast with Rebecca Solnit, and I was moved by the clarity of her observations about hope. She’s written a great deal about finding hope in the darkest places, and the way our best selves emerge in a crisis. She spoke about the power of stories to influence our thinking – like “womb” and “tomb,” two words evoking dark places – one of nurturing, growth and possibilities, the other of death, decay, and returning to the earth.

I think they caught it early, but I don’t know. And it doesn’t really matter. Last week, I celebrated 44 years of sobriety – every day of it a miracle. And this day is no exception. Sunrise on pristine snow, critter tracks through the trees, a talk with my daughter who’s recovering from an illness (along with her daughter), a couple of short calls to catch up with friends, and then this afternoon with my mom, her laughing about the latest book she’s reading, later a good visit with a client who’s working on a fabulous book, and Craig calling to say he’s getting a car wash on the way to pick us up. Mom’s spending the weekend with us. She loves the fire in the woodstove, the snow on the trees. Says she’s not bringing her book, because she’s going to do some writing.

It’s these little things that feel so full of life and love and healing.

Mary Oliver said, “All eternity is in the moment.”

I’m grateful for this moment, and all it encompasses.


Copyright © 2023 Carmel Mawle. All rights reserved.

12 thoughts on “On Hope

  1. Oh, no, Carmel. I believe in dietary changes, supervised fasting, hope. But, your orientation to it is also so healing. Gratitude for what we have is transformative. Sending you a virtual hug and all my love.

    1. Dana, thank you. I look forward to learning more about the dietary changes. Right now we try to stick to the Mediterranean diet, but I’m sure there’s more we could do. Sending love.

  2. Blessings on you for being such a wise woman as you are going through your current challenge. Considering how I first met you (through Writing for Peace) you are now ‘IT’: Living Peace. Thanks from my heart for being such an inspiration.
    Dominique Mazeaud
    Santa Fe, New Mexico

    1. Dominique, thank you. It makes me so happy that our writing for peace community is still there, writing, andsupporting each other. Sending love.

  3. Carmel, please know that I am thinking about you and sending love and hopeful healing thoughts to you – please take care of yourself and thank you for your open beautiful words.

  4. Carmel, I’m feeling something larger than hope that they did catch it early! I know several people who’ve had these types of skin cancers and recovered well. May it be so for you! Hope you can keep us posted as you go through this particular journey of healing.

  5. Carmel, As always, beautiful writing. Not so beautiful news. I’m certain this will just be a “blip”, however, I wish you weren’t having to deal with this at all. Much love my friend

    1. Thank you, Rachel. I think you’re right. So far, the news has been pretty positive. I’ll know more in a couple of weeks, I think. Much love back your way.

  6. I could feel the warmth of your wood burning stove and your calm. It’s amazing what things bring clarity. I too have hope!

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