Our noblest hopes

This mounted tiger appears high overhead at the Museum of Natural History. The Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, April 2013

This mounted tiger appears high overhead at the Museum of Natural History.
The Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, April 2013

“Our noblest hopes grow teeth and pursue us like tigers.”  — John Gardner

Tigers may be my favorite wild animals.  Their beauty and power fascinate me.  I like this quote, because I believe hope can be a formidable weapon against despair.  I tend to think of hope as a passive, almost delicate quality; something silent and steadfast, but hardly the word that comes to mind when we see a magnificent tiger.

Yet think of history’s most daring explorers, the legendary defenders of the weak, champions of justice and underdogs who defeated the enemy against all odds.  Consider the many heroic characters of fairy tales and other literature.  Aside from courage, what other quality do they all have?  Hope — the refusal to give up or give in, the persistent belief that success, or victory, or a breakthrough, is within their power.

Note that Gardner is not referring to pipe dreams or selfish aspirations here – he says it’s our noblest hopes that can pursue and overtake us.

The next time you are feeling defeated by despair, remember that hope, once awakened, is a ferocious and mighty asset.  Feed your noblest hopes, let them grow teeth, and watch them empower you to do more than you ever imagined.

One year ago today:

The power to speak




  1. Hi Julia, cheers for dropping by Serendipity Farm and deciding to visit on a regular basis. I am just about to tuck you into my RSS Feed Reader so that I get your wonderful posts every time the hit the press. You will be nestled in between Deep Green Permaculture and Deliciously Ella. Good company indeed! I think that hope pretends to be mild and gentle in order for the meek to take it up and run with it. I think that meek people are the people that need hope the most. To pick up a premise and to take it to heart and to suddenly realise that it is WORTH that passion is a most enabling and ennobling thing. It can be the making of someone and it can put fire in your life. I like to think of myself as a glass half full person (whatever that is…hopefully half full of something worth drinking 😉 ) and trawl around the interweb hunting for stories of passion and beauty and stark reality where we triumph over our base instincts and we rise above it to create truly magnificent outcomes. Often those magnificent outcomes, those beautiful moments, that apex of that majestic mountain are achieved by the still quiet determination of meek souls 🙂

    • I agree! I think we misunderstand the power of “meek” and “quiet” which are too often drowned out in all the noise. But those are traits I’m trying to build – I lack them, though I admire them. A verse I’ve always aspired to is “in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15) – for one who loves words as much as I do, quietness can be a challenge, but one worth striving for. Love your Gravatar! Thanks for joining us here.

      • 🙂 “Quiet” isn’t something that I do on a regular basis but I do get a lot of quiet time here in my early morning forays into finding out about what makes our world tick. I get up at 3am in order to spend the next 4 hours learning about all kinds of things. By 7am when it is time to wake Steve (and the dogs) I am buzzing with possibilities. I love my early mornings and the days that spring out of them :). Steve designed my gravatar. I love it to 🙂 I am with you on the verse. Quiet confidence is what gets people through…something to focus on and just work towards no matter what. We all need hope to cling to at times and its a good reminder that we should choose wisely what we are going to cling to.

        • Wow, I admire early risers. Jeff gets up early too (about 5:00 a.m.) but I can’t seem to do that without great effort. I am definitely a night person. I think it’s better to be an early riser, though, and I keep trying to learn it. When I do manage to get up early I always enjoy the morning once I wake up.

          • I was never an early riser till I got completely sick to death of being a zombie for a fortnight when daylight savings came so I decided to get up an hour earlier than usual. I used to go to bed at 1 – 2am and was a very grumpy camper in the mornings if I had to get out of bed before 8am. I liked my early mornings so much I started getting up earlier and earlier and 3am is a really great time for me because I settle down and make myself my (first) cup of tea and I have the whole house to myself. It’s lovely and well worth me being dog tired by 7.30pm. I used to be a bit of an insomniac and would lay awake worrying about things at night but now I drag myself to bed and drop like a stone. No more a light sleeper, I could sleep through the bombing of Dresden and so I figure the “Early to bed” adage might just have something in it 🙂

            • You have inspired me to keep trying to change my body clock around! I just love the thought of being up early enough to enjoy a cuppa before I have to get on with the day. There really is something to that “early to bed” business because I’ve watched my husband doing amazing things for many years (never more than now as he lives with Stage IV cancer almost as if he doesn’t have it) and he’s been very disciplined about the early to bed, early to rise business. SO, here I go again, trying to change my ways…I read recently that taking Melatonin can be useful for a brief time when one is dealing with trying to switch the body clock around. Maybe I’ll try that. Meanwhile thanks for sharing your story, which proves it CAN be done!

              • I found that being a grumpy sod worked 😉 Seriously though, I am probably not the best person to talk to at 3am prior to my first cup of tea but as it is only me and our big black dog Bezial up at that time and he head straight to my warm patch in the bed when he sees that it is my time to guard the house I am pretty much alone.

                While the kettle is boiling the water for that first (heaven sent) cuppa I turn on the PC, load up my RSS Feed Reader, check emails, answer them, comment on blog comments and settle down with my HUGE mug of tea to pin interesting things on Pinterest (I love that people share SO much these days 🙂 ) and hunt for new and interesting things to enthuse me and get me excited. I am a bit of a magpie and collect all sorts of recipes and crafts and ways to do things that I never knew before. I LOVE learning 🙂

                I wish I could give you a HUGE hug. I can’t even imagine how you are dealing with your husbands cancer. He seems so very focussed and sometimes being on the peripherals of cancer is almost as bad as having it yourself. I love that he is living his life fully. You have had such a bad time of it all! I think and feel that I am much healthier and more alert now that I get up early and go to bed early. I don’t know why, I just am.

                I am really glad that I got bolshie about daylight savings (still HATE it!) and decided to damn the man so to speak by bypassing it (I don’t really…3am becomes 2am but it’s the principle of the thing 😉 ) and I get SO much time when my mind is active, vibrant and completely aware early in the morning when it is completely quiet and I am focussed. The perfect environment for learning :).

                Hugs from cold sunny Sidmouth where Stevie-boy is off down to the front of our 4 acre property to assume the mantle of lumberjack for the next few days. Then it’s my turn to split the logs with a mechanical log splitter. Aint country life grand? 🙂

                • You have pinpointed yet another good reason to get up early – one doesn’t have to talk to anyone else until after some tea! Seriously, for a time I was getting up at 5 a.m. every day with Jeff, and I found he actually seemed to like it better for me NOT to get up early – unless I kept quiet 🙂 since that is his only time to be “home alone” as it were.

                  I do love Pinterest, look me up there. It’s so nice that almost anything I might want to make, grow, cook or create can be found on there, along with lots of beautiful quotes, photos and other delights. I think I too have a bit of the jackdaw in me, and words are the shiny things I hoard most.

                  I smiled when you mentioned wood splitting. My husband did a good bit of that growing up, as his home was heated with a wood stove! I think the country life made him strong and that’s enabling him to survive as well as he has so far.

                  I know if I could ever get into the habit of early sleeping and rising, I too would be healthier. Your appealing description of it will be good motivation. Thanks so much for the cyber hugs! I send some back your direction.

                  • Pinterest Ma’am? Do tell! Send me a linky. I am prolific on Pinterest and am most pleased to meet a fellow pinner 🙂 getting up early was the making of me. I doubt I would be so keen on it if I had to share to be honest 🙂

                    • My Pinterest page is http://www.pinterest.com/defeatdespair/ but it’s very much a work in progress…I have to sharply limit the time I allow myself there, as I could spend HOURS, it’s like Alice jumping down the rabbit hole. If I got up early, my hubby would certainly be so quiet I would think I had the house all to myself 🙂 – I will sincerely give it a try sometime soon. Maybe after Matt’s surgery is past…

                    • If you go to my page http://www.pinterest.com/7narf7/ you will see someone who is completely and utterly addicted to Pinterest. I love that you can find all kinds of information, can store it on a page in boards and it can be shared. A wonderful idea :). The best bit is that you can get a good idea about what it’s about by the image rather than having to search all over the place through dry documents. Anything I find interesting in my RSS Feed Reader blog posts gets pinned. I hope Matt’s surgery goes smoothly and efficiently and he comes through with shining colours. My niece had open heart surgery when she was only 9. She had several holes in her heart that needed to be mended. She is now a lovely girl full of energy and is “fit as a malley bull” (an old Aussie saying) 🙂

                    • Your Pinterest page does have lots on it! How do you keep track of that many pins? Some people have tons of boards but not many pins; with you it’s just the opposite, you don’t have too many boards, but thousands of pins. I’ve never tried to search within a board; are they organized or sorted in any way? I do like the photos. It makes Pinterest like an online custom magazine with all the stuff chosen for individual interests.

                      This will be Matt’s 5th open heart surgery – he had his first before he was a year old (had his first birthday in the Cardiac ICU). He has always come through safely and bounced back more quickly than anyone expected. We are hoping and praying that this time will be another success. Love the Aussie phrase, I will have to remember that one! 🙂

                    • Keeping our fingers crossed on this side of the pond for Matt and his surgery as well. NO idea about sorting through Pinterest pages, I just store them away for anyone that wants to find them. I love recipes and “things” that are innovative and that teach you how to do something you might not have known how to do otherwise 🙂

                    • Thanks for your good wishes! I just had to find out whether there is some way to quickly access something on my own Pinterest boards – as a librarian I’m totally OCD about archiving and cataloging things so they can be found quickly (but really just wanted an excuse to allow myself to indulge in the “digital hoarding” that is so much fun on Pinterest). I found this article which I may try if I ever get so many pins that I can’t quickly search them visually. Here is the link in case you are interested: http://blog.pinterest.com/post/52148449991/wheres-that-pin-again-search-your-pins

      • Rene

        I love the Gravatar also! Of course, I had to make it way bigger before I could truly appreciate it!

        • It is definitely the most original one I’ve seen.

  2. …Feed your noblest hopes, let them grow teeth, and watch them empower you to do more than you ever imagined. That’s beautiful, Julia!

    • Thanks Alys, I’m glad you like it!

  3. Sheila

    Julia, we were really having fun one year ago on your blog! I remembered it immediately as I started reading again today. Hope always brings to mind the Charles H. Spurgeon quote: “Faith goes up the stairs that love has built and looks out the windows which hope has opened.” I suppose faith, love, and HOPE seems like the winning combination. 🙂

    • I’ll have to go back and read those comments, Sheila – I don’t remember last year but I’m sure I will when I start to read. I like that quote by Spurgeon. Hope you will have a great weekend this Easter weekend!

  4. For me hope is a magnificent state of being – It is what remains in the forbidden box after Pandora has opened it and released all the woes into the world………… “When all else is lost, hope remains” I live in hope 🙂

    • Thank you Pauline, I had forgotten that aspect of the Pandora story until you mentioned it, but I do remember the lovely little fairy named “hope” that flew out of the box at the end of the story (at least in the version I read). I too live in hope. Actually a pretty nice place to live, all things considered! ❤

  5. Interesting and thought-provoking post. . . I like how you draw an analogy between hope and tigers

    • Thanks Sheryl, that comparison had never occurred to me until I read that quote. I’m glad you enjoyed it! I’ve heard lots of talk about hope, but nothing I’d heard or read had ever included Tigers, except in a negative way (as in the lovely song “I Dreamed a Dream” where the Tigers “tear your hopes apart.”) – so I was happy to see Tigers mentioned as an asset to hope!

  6. Amy

    “Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things” Hoping all is well for you. Love to the boys. A

    • Ah, you must be remembering how much I love that quote! Maybe we can watch that movie together sometime in your home theater. We are doing OK, gearing up for next week. Love you.

      • Amy

        Whenever you are ready. I have the film and I can make the popcorn. 🙂

        • 😀 😀 😀

  7. Michael

    I feel more like a,”putty kat”. today. When I went to post on the UR site today-guess whose post was right behind me. Sometimes I get so upset about some of the posts-but I can’t seem to stop reading. But I do appreciate yours.

    • Thanks Michael. I understand how you feel about some of the posts being irritating, especially those that pontificate as if they have some divine corner on the truth (and it’s all the more difficult when such are saying things I feel to be highly questionable or even heretical). BUT, I figure it’s good practice in tolerance and also I think it’s wise to be willing to hear other viewpoints. Plus there are so many good posts that it all balances out. We can’t be tigers every day (thank goodness for that) but it helps to think of the truth as something that is strong and has nothing to fear from our bumbling attempts to comprehend it.

  8. raynard

    Julia how did I miss” the Exxon tiger? lol The quote from Shawshank Redemption is my alll time favorite( next to Rocky’s Eye of the Tiger” and the back story behind it. Dis I ever mention a website called Booktrack/ It’s where you can write your own story and add music to it. Did my first one already last week.

    • Raynard I just love that movie. The very first time I saw it I wrote that quote in the front of my journal and it’s been there ever since, a continual encouragement to me. We are all a bit like Andy DuFresne, digging out of circumstances we never asked for or deserved, but somehow keeping on and never giving up. I made a quick visit to Booktrack, WOW – what a great site. I never thought of you as a techno-geek but you surely keep up with all these great online opportunities (or should I say TOYS?) 🙂 Blessings to you and your family on this Easter weekend!

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