A dialogue between an archer and a wise man, regarding the necessity of hope.
I hope they don't make it here before dawn. He looked anxiously into the distance, carefully observing the big, black mass, which was approaching the castle. His thoughts were interrupted by the words he did not quite recognize, but he thought he heard something similar to "illusion". He reluctantly looked away from the approaching shadow, still firmly gripping the bow in his hand. He was a well trained soldier. Emotions did not show on his face, but for a brief moment, one could see the fear and excitement in his eyes. He waited a few moments before speaking, making sure not to allow his voice to give away the tension, that had been growing within him.
I thought I was alone. What are you doing here, old man?
The old man stepped out of the shadows, letting the moonlight shine upon his wrinkled face, so that the young archer could clearly see him.
Is it a crime to enjoy the silence, which this night so generously offers? said the wise one.
Huh. The archer rolled his eyes. You didn't come here for that. You knew I was here. I heard you talking about illusions or something, as usual...
In fact, running into you was a mere coincidence. And what I said was that hope is but an illusion, used by men to brighten the reality.
Is it bad to have hope, and desire the best possible outcome for yourself, and your people?
The old man laughed, seeing that the arched did not fully understand the words he just spoke to him. It is not wrong to desire a good outcome, but what I meant to say was, that instead of hoping that the dawn would be quicker than them, you should have been planing for the worst, in case they were the first to arrive.
All right, said the archer. Imagine if the hope didn't exist. Imagine a life in which, after a single defeat, everyone simply quits, not hoping that they would do better next time. Imagine that, after a few failures, everybody gives up on their dreams, not seeing the future as a new chance, but rather letting life flow as it is. Wouldn't that be even worse? That life would, in my opinion, be a wasted one.
The old man said nothing, and remain motionless for the next few seconds. Then, he smiled, realizing that in front of him stood a worthy debater. Hope itself is the reason why people quit after only a few attempts. One should predict all possible outcomes of his actions, and those of others, and should be prepared for each possible option, so that in the end he wouldn't remain surprised, weakened and faithless. Hope is the one making us feel we won, even before the battle started. And later, when that doesn't prove to be the case, we're left feeling powerless. I'm not saying we shouldn't hope, but we should stop creating the illusions of perfection. Hope only blinds us, only without it can we see the world as it is, and the people in their true forms.
The archer was quick to respond. Predicting everything is impossible, at least to ordinary people like me. People are strange beings, unpredictable, easily bribed, prone to betrayal. But, what kind of life would that be if we never trusted anyone? If we were to stop and carefully observe each of our moves, and that of others, not trusting in the kindness of the human heart? Surely a lonely one, you must agree.
It's as if the old man had prepared a response in advance. It would be a life without regret, or unpleasant surprises. I do not mean to say that you should never trust another, but that you should never fully trust, always leaving a small place inside your heart, for doubt to reside in. Never should you take things for granted. Only then will you be able to swiftly stand up after each defeat, and find the fastest and the best way out of the bad situations.
What about this? The archer stretched out his hand, so that the old man could take a closer look at his bow. Is it wrong hoping that we would win, no matter how slim the chances?
Old man quickly replied, his voice now catching a deeper, more serious tone. Do you hope that the arrow will hit, when you have already released it? Is it the hope that is guiding it's flight? Yes, you should trust in your skills, but if you don't perfect them, hope will not help you hit the mark.
The archer frowned, trying to find anything that the old man would not have an adequate answer to. Then, he thought of something.
And what about love? Does it need not hope?! Is it even possible to love, while constantly keeping track of every action the two lovers make? Should we doubt, and be calculated, even in love? How is that even possible, when love should be unconditional, something different, unstained?!
Surely you would have to doubt at fist, for you have to be certain you chose the right one. But after that, it turns into something different, bigger. It becomes a special connection between two people. People who can understand each other without a single word. A new world emerges, a world in which only the two of them live in, unaffected by the events around them. A world in which each of them knows the other one, better that himself. But I am not sure something like that even exists.
Although, you have me convinced, young one. It is impossible to completely live without hope.
On second thought, hope is not as necessary as I had believed, said the archer in the exact same moment the old man had finished his last sentence.
It was in that moment, that they had both agreed the other one was right. They stood motionless, staring at one another with apparent confusion in their eyes... Until the old man turned around, and ventured back into the shadows from which he came.