Built in hope

The road to Wieskirche, a place of hope for many pilgrims, near Steingaden, Germany, August 2005

The road to Wieskirche, a place of pilgrimage near Steingaden, Germany, August 2005

“The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination.” Marian Zimmer Bradley

I love the book Life of Pi, especially the ending where Pi asks the skeptics a valid but often overlooked question: which is the better story?

There are those who see optimism as just another form of delusion; who feel that faith is nothing more than wishful thinking.  I think most of us who have suffered in any way can understand and sympathize to some degree with the disillusionment of the cynics, but perhaps their pessimism is actually more defensive than the determined forward motion of the hopeful.  Perhaps it is just as delusional to put one’s trust in what appears to be objective reason; after all, how many times has “established fact” been proven erroneous?

I’ve struggled with depression more often than I care to admit, and while pain can teach us much, I think it’s a tragedy to be permanently chained to it.  Contrary to what some people may believe, optimists are sometimes the most realistic of all.  It’s not that they are blind to the sorrows of life; it’s simply that they refuse to be defined by them.  That’s why the song “The Impossible Dream,” said to be the favorite song of Robert Kennedy, is a favorite of countless other people as well.  Don Quixote does not sing of happy endings and certain victory.  He celebrates the refusal to surrender to sorrow and despair.  “And the world will be better for this.”

Whatever sorrows and troubles you may face in life, I hope that you will always find your way back to the road built in hope, where traveling mercies abound.


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This post was originally published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Susan

    This is beautiful, Julia. And very appropriate for this strange time we’re living through.

    • Thank you, Susan. I’m so happy you like it.

  2. Good morning, Julia! It’s a very valid point that Marian Zimmer Bradley makes. I needed to hear that, today. Especially when we have to take a certain road to get somewhere, the journey is what we make it.
    Your photo is charming. I noticed that the fenceposts seem in sight disagreement regarding which way is “up,” unlike the trees in the woods across the field. That’s another good point for me to ponder today.

    • It’s funny– I didn’t even notice that about the fenceposts! I think I was so focused on the landscape and the way the road seems to go on into infinity. I suppose the trees have much deeper roots than the fenceposts, plus they are living things that always reach for the light. Yes, it’s an inspiring analogy.

  3. I am so glad to know you are still encouraging others despite all you have been through, Julia. Sorry it has been so long since I visited! God bless you!

    • Patsy! It’s so good to see you here! How have you been doing? I hope you and your loved ones are well. Are you finding more time for your artwork in the shutdown, or less? Matt has been with me 24/7 since mid-March (by my choice and his) so I’ve actually had less time than I did before, but I’ve done more cooking and cleaning than usual and I’ve actually enjoyed that. Thanks so much for being here! I’m going to mosey over to your page to see what’s new. I keep intending to spend more time visiting other people’s blogs but usually I only get to one at a time. Stay well and happy!

      • Hi Julia! So good to hear from you! I am doing well. I finally got my shoulder fixed in November. I still have limited movement, but they say it takes about a year to be fully functional. I am just thankful to be able to do my art now without excrciating pain! It is really a blessing! I have the same amount of time as I did before the shutdown to do my art. I only get to town about once a week normally anyway.
        I am glad Matt is with you and you aren’t alone through this crazy time!
        You know, I always hope to spend time reading others’ blogs, too, but I follow so many, I could never keep up!
        I am glad you are doing okay. You and Matt stay well, too! Thanks for the visit! Take care. 😁❤😁

        • Patsy, my sister had shoulder replacement surgery around the same time you did. She said the same thing, that it takes awhile to be 100%, but like you she is relieved to be free of the pain that had been constant for a long time and gradually got worse and worse until she felt she had no choice but to go for the surgery. You sound like me– the shutdown hasn’t greatly altered my life compared to what many others have experienced. I suppose that’s one benefit to living on a retirement income. I’m a homebody so staying home comes naturally to me. I’m no artist but I do like crafts and just enjoy puttering around the house. I’m glad you are well and happy! Thanks so much for coming by. It is wonderful to hear from you again.

          • Oh wow, Julia! A shoulder replacement? That would definitely take a long time to recover from! I only had some rotator cuff repair. But the doctor said it is still at least a year until 100%. But yes, being free of the constant aches and pains is very nice! I am happy for your sister, too. Yes, I have been a homebody for the last two years since our daughter graduated from high school! 🙂 And I bet you are more of an artist than you realize! I don’t know if you sew, but if you do, you are an artist! It is nice to be in touch with you again, too.

            • Patsy, I do sew from time to time, but usually just mending in the past few years, or hemming Matt’s pants. I was never the seamstress my mother was. I guess the closest I come to any sort of artistry is with my better photographs, although others are so much more talented than I am that it’s hard to use the word “artist” about myself. I need to go back and read my Julia Cameron books again. I think she has helped so many people tap into their creativity, me included.

              • Well, photography is definitely an art! I used to feel the same way about calling myself an artist, but there’s always going to be others who are more talented or gifted than we are, Julia. But I believe everyone has something special to offer.
                I went through The Artist’s Way book by Julia Cameron a few summers ago. The writing about killed me back then, lol! But I don’t have it; I borrowed the book from the library, and I am not sure where my journal is for that. But it was interesting!

                • When I first read The Artist’s Way, I did the morning pages for a few weeks before realizing that it was totally impractical for me. My mornings did not belong to me and rising earlier when I was already sleep-deprived made no sense. Cameron is, like many coaches in various fields, fairly bossy about presenting her tactics as the only way to success. But most of us have to pick and choose among various techniques to find the ones that work for us. What I like best about Cameron is that she gives people permission (as if we should need it) to explore their creative side whether or not they can make money doing so. As you say, everyone has something to offer but many of us have been discouraged from seeing value in our own creativity. One of Cameron’s teaching tools, the Artist Date, was much more appealing and practical for me. I love walking around in various shops (especially craft and fabric stores) just to soak up the colors and images. Museums are great for that too, but stores are more plentiful and easy to reach, and lend themselves to very short visits when time doesn’t allow for more.

                  • I agree, Julia! I found her coming across bossy, too! And all that writing just about killed my shoulder and arm that summer! I finally just did what I wanted, ha ha! I did enjoy the idea of the artist date, too, though! My favorite little art store, Aaron Bros. at the time was my art hangout. But now they are merged with Michael’s and I don’t really like looking for stuff there. Too big! I get my art supplies online now.

                    • I love walking around in Michael’s, but that’s because I’m such a shameless dilettante! I don’t know the real thing from the mass-marketed craft supplies. I have so much more along those lines than I will ever use, that I almost never buy anything anymore, but I do so love walking around looking at the strings of colorful glass beads, bright silk flowers and endless arrays of lovely paper. It almost always cheers me.

                    • Yes, “window shopping” is good for the soul at times!

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