desire, hope, and expectation

My aims are fairly limited: I expect to hug my kid, and tell him I love him. I expect to hug my wife, and tell her I will always support her. I expect to make my Momma proud (“Be a good race-man,” she used to say.) And I expect to honor my Dad. I expect to drink some good rum. And I expect to know more tomorrow than I know today. And I expect to talk to the youth about taking control of their own education. And I expect to be a good writer.

And that really is it. It’s all I can ask. It’s all I can control.

That was written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and posted on his blog at The Atlantic a few days ago. It is singularly sane and hopeful. A mark of in-sanity, particularly the ordinary everyday insanity of mood disorders (to use a bland pop-generic term), is the desire for the wrong things. Wrong in the sense of impossible, unattainable, delusory. To expect sane things ― to love my husband, to do right by my kids, to be a friend to my friends, to do my job ― is to desire these things. It is also to expect that I will have the ability to do these things: to hope that I possess, or can acquire, the capabilities and skills required to achieve them. Further: it is to expect that my circumstances will not prevent me from acquiring those capabilities and employing then to achieve my heart’s desire. Some of those circumstances are of my own making ― or undoing. Some conditions are created by others: employers, clients, family, friends, strangers. But many of the conditions that can defeat or justify hope are institutional ― including the legacy, both good and evil, of the past.