The Function of Hope

To Turkish readers: Bu yazı, “Umudun İşlevi” isimli ufak denememin bir tercümesidir.

This text is, with all of my love, to those who are in search of Hope and afraid of getting hopeful.

In one of his poems, the Greek poet Kavafis describes the journey to a beautiful island called  “Ithaca“:

Then pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many,
that you will enter ports seen for the first time
with such pleasure, with such joy!

Always keep Ithaca fixed in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.


How grandiose are these dreams! It’s almost as if the poet is trying to trick us! What if we can not make it to Ithaca? What if, assuming that we could arrive, we won’t find what we were looking for? Does every tunnel lead to light?

What if we are falling for it?
What if we are falling for it?

There is an even greater question than arriving to Ithaca, isn’t there?

Why do we ever get hopeful?

Don’t we, in fact, have to deal with our disappointments like our three meals every day? Our hopes might not be realized. We may be even wrong in what we are hoping for ourselves.

Furthermore, we might get trapped by our expectations. Ahmed Amiş Efendi, a Turkish mystic, once said:

if it matters to you whether an object of your desires comes true or not, then you are still incomplete.

An author in Ekşisözlük (an awesome website that is unfortunately only in Turkish) develops this idea, and says:

That your wish would come true shall not give you peace.

As a matter of fact, that it would not come true shall not give you peace either.

In other words, more important than whether they come true or not, the things we hope for might not even be related with our happiness at all! They may be of no use other than dulling our minds.

A publication with a wonderful title.
A publication with a wonderful title.

So, given that hope may bring disappointments and further problems, why do we keep experiencing this feeling? To rephrase our big question: Why do we hope at all?

After exchanging ideas with some of my beloved friends, I’ve arrived to the following train of thought:

Let’s consider what kind of things we get hopeful for. We hope for good things, we hope for things, people, and experiences we think that would bring us happiness. We would believe, secretly, that we deserve them. If we grant ourselves the right to have those things, then we must be caring about ourselves.

Voila! So, the function of hope is to remember self-love!

If we take hope in this way (i.e., one proof that we love ourselves), we can use it to empower ourselves while going through experiences: because we would love ourselves no matter what. Also, we can be glad about our choices in the past: all that we had done was an effort to love ourselves. Regardless of the things that happenned or will happen, we can choose to love ourselves right now.


Towards the end of the poem “Ithaca”, we find the following lines:

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would never have taken the road.
But she has nothing more to give you.

In our lives, there are many “Ithaca”s and countless paths that lead to them. We may or may not reach to them. But, anyway, the things that matter are the journey, our very hope that we would complete the journey, and that we feel that we deserve achieving our goals. It matters that we choose to be happy regardless of the outcome of our journey. In other words, it matters that we learn to love ourselves.


One who loves himself knows the value of being loved.

One who knows how to love himself unconditionally, also knows to love others unconditionally.

I wish all of us days full of hope. With all my love!


2 thoughts on “The Function of Hope

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