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

This post was first 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. I remember that frightening Smithsonian tiger. I didn’t remember that his mouth was closed. I think I was careful to not stand directly in front of him, though! Ha!
    I think most other taxidermied tigers I’ve seen (not many) had open mouths. Or maybe I just imagined it to be the case. I just expected that pouncing tigers would want to eat me. Maybe this one wants to play with me first? Yikes.

    • Until reading your comment, I had never even thought about whether the mouth was open or closed. Sometimes I can miss the biggest details!

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