Writing this series of articles is like climbing high mountains – like those in Switzerland where I have lived for many years before moving to Mauritius. It becomes more challenging with every hour that passes while climbing up to the peak. Likewise, every topic that I discuss in this newspaper is more challenging than those of the previous articles. Yet, I never lose hope and I believe that I will also succeed this time. Hope is a concept that takes place in our minds – I attribute hope to the mental realm. It is something intangible, but nevertheless a powerful virtue.

Hope has a shadow side that is called illusion. Hope is something positive, something uplifting. In comparison, staying in our illusions is something negative as we have painted a picture in our mind which is so far from reality that it is likely not to happen – ever. The evil side of hope is called despair. Despair is the absence of hope. Even in dark times, we can often find a glimpse of hope although we may think in certain situations that there is none. My dear reader, if you feel despair, please talk to someone – it helps if we can share our hopelessness with others. Sometimes it is just one person, who listens patiently to our misery, that can change our life.

Feeling defeated is something different although not a pretty emotion either. It happens to all of us – we fail so that we can rise again. But trials and tribulations are part of our life and it is decisive how we handle them – whether we ignore our feelings or whether we accept and integrate them as part of us. A couple of days ago, I had one of those days where I felt defeated – where gratitude was no longer present and frustration took over. I felt sad that I cannot provide the ideal family for my son.

But then I stopped, breathed and felt hope.

I had complained to a friend by means of modern communication and promptly received back an answer that I had to digest. The text message read: ‘We all have good and bad days. You have a family – it might not be a picture book family but you have to find happiness where you are. It is better to appreciate what you have than to wish for another life that might be better – or might not.’

My first thought was that the friend’s words were defying hope. They left me exactly at the place where I was without hope that my life may change for the better. My second thought was that I was ungrateful for the gifts that I have in my life. My friend had taught me something that I had simply forgotten at that moment: being grateful.

I believe that from a place of gratitude we can rise and reach for the stars. We as humans often make the same mistake again and again – we look back at the past and wonder what could have been or what would have been if we had decided differently. We overlook, however, that we cannot teleport back and change our decision that we once made. Instead, we should appreciate our current state of being and start from there. Accept who we are and what we have and continue to follow our path – not the path of stagnation but the path that allows us to become a better human being.

Climbing a mountain again comes to my mind. Once, we have decided for a path, we only have two options. We can either appreciate the way up, make stops, look around, being astounded about the beauty of the nature and enjoy the fact that we have already climbed more than one half. Or we can climb the mountain with resilience and sheer determination. We will reach the peak as well but we may not enjoy the path as much as we would have if we had chosen the first option.

I have always chosen the second alternative when climbing mountains. As someone who was not used to hiking, I would moan within the first hour of our trip but I was determined and continued to climb. I never gave up and I cannot remember a mountain where I had not succeeded – simply because of my sheer will. I do not know whether it is a healthy way to climb mountains but as I never lost hope, I finally made it to the top.

This is where I would like to come back to what hope could be if it is intertwined with the acceptance of who we are and what we have: hope can be the starting point for a better future as long as we look back to our past in gratitude, accept the presence with meekness and welcome the future full of bravery. Hence, my dear reader, I would like to conclude this article with the following words: Have hope!

Ash Phoenix is the author of the fiction novel The Chronicles of the Tiny Island that is available at Bookcourt. You can follow Ash Phoenix’ new blog, called Faith, Hope and Love: