The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines hope as “cherishing a desire with anticipation.” Which, as we all draw nearer to graduation I would say is how I feel about May 5; hopeful. However, the archaic definition of hope is trust. And trust, I think, is harder to obtain than hope sometimes. Hope is internal. Hope is something that sits under your breastbone and burns with little sparks to keep you moving. Trust is an elusive concept. Most of us don’t even trust our own bodies or minds, riddled as we are with diseases both mental and physical. This idea made me think of the story of Pandora and her box.
Pandora in Greek Mythology was a woman fashioned from clay by Zeus who was married to Prometheus’s (the guy with the fire and the eagle liver thing) brother. As a wedding present, Zeus (lightning thunder dude who liked to change into animals to have affairs with mortal women) gave her a clay jar or box and told her not to open it. As all Greek myths go she opened the jar and let out all the evil, disease, and nastiness that the world now contains, but she shut the box before Elpis, the Greek minor god of hope could escape.
There are a lot of different theories and interpretations of and about this story, but one that gives me hope is the idea that the clay jar was representative of the human body. Hear me out. So Pandora was the first human made out of clay by Zeus, given the clay jar with all the evil of humanity inside of it. She opened it and now all that was free in the world but the only thing inside the clay jar was hope. The only thing left inside this physical metaphor for the human body was the small, flickering idea of courage and belief. Which means that while people can be evil, can be sick, can commit atrocities beyond imagination, the only thing that is inherent in all of us is not good or evil, but hope.
Hope therefore is the truest human expression, the truest emotion that all humans share. The universal truth of humanity is hope, and if we go off of the original definition is trust. I hope for my future that I can embody this more, that I trust more, that I hope more. There are goals, aspirations, working hard, and planning, but hope is what keeps those fires lit.
There is another interpretation of Pandora’s Box, and it is that Elpis is really the minor god of foreboding, that ominous and ever-present fear that is the acid that eats away at hope. And while that sounds like a terrible thing to keep trapped inside of a clay jar, this too brings the reader of Pandora’s Box hope. For fear is locked in a vault somewhere it can not touch the sunshine rays of hope we hold in all of us.