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Embracing Uncertainty

November 4, 2023


Our hearts are heavy.

So many troubles in the world.





Whether we are directly impacted by current events or not, holding on to hope right now seems hard, very hard. Even talking about hope can feel frivolous, as if we are denying the realities spilling around us.

And yet, here we are preparing for our next micro-retreat on Hope and struggling like others to know where to find hope and how to hang on to it.

We’re reading, we’re listening, we’re thinking, we’re reflecting. Here’s a little of what we’re working to understand.

Hope is an embrace of uncertainty.

In 2016 Rebecca Solnit wrote about living in challenging times. Seven years later her words continue to offer a way to approach hope:

Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognise uncertainty, you recognise that you may be able to influence the outcomes – you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. 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.”

Hope is a social gift

Maria Hill, owner of Sensitive Evolution, highlights the social dimension of hope. Writing for Life Hack, she points out:

Hope recognizes our interdependency with our families, culture, society and our environment…. The most important impact we have on each other is through how we affect each other’s hopes. One of the silliest things we can do is destroy another’s hopes because then there is less room for our own … The easiest way to support a hopeful world is to support hope in others and ask that others do the same for you.

Hope is a duty

Barbara Kingsolver has said it. Lea Ypi, an Albanian author, echoes that idea. In an interview for The Guardian Ypi explains:

Hope is a moral duty – we have to act as though there is the chance of things going in a way that is favourable to what we want to achieve. If we were nihilistic, we couldn’t uphold that sense of duty.

And here’s Kingsolver’s challenge

The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. The most you can do is live inside that hope, running down its hallways, touching the walls on both sides.

Hope begins in the imagination

In Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities (2016), Solnit tells us:

To hope is to gamble. It’s to bet on the future, on your desires, on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty is better than gloom and safety. To hope is dangerous, and yet it is the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk.
To hope is to give yourself the future, and that commitment to the future makes the present habitable.”

Hope is…

Hope is holding a creative tension between what is and what could and should be, each day doing something to narrow the distance between the two. Parker J. Palmer

Contact Us

We are settlers on Treaty 13 Land, the traditional territories of many Indigenous Nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, and home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples from across Turtle Island. We are committed to honouring the history this land bears witness to, responding to the 94 Calls to Action of the  Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and walking lightly on the Earth. A portion of proceeds from all our offerings are sent to:  The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and The Nii’kinaaganaa Foundation.

The Inside Outside Retreat Centre, Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), 720 Bathurst St., Toronto, ON, M5S2R4