👀 Hope Is The Thing With Feathers
#295 | There's a test for everything these days
Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen, spellbound by a ballet based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale 'The Little Mermaid', commissioned the sculptor Edward Eriksen to create a bronze statue of her, a gift he made to the City of Copenhagen in 1913.
Ever since the mermaid has been one of the city's most recognisable icons, and tourists flock to see her. Near the statue is a description that reads, "Every morning and evening she swims to the surface from the bottom of the sea and, perched on her rock in the water, she stares longingly towards the shore hoping to catch a glimpse of her beloved prince."
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Three summers ago, as I stood in a crowd looking at the statue, my first reaction to the blurb was mild annoyance- "yet another instance of a woman giving everything up and pining for a man", I thought.
But for some reason, the line stayed with me, and I couldn't help but think that all human life is but an exercise in longing for love.
We long for loved ones who live away from us, for those who have left us, and for those who are near but do not reciprocate our love. We long for love in the split second it takes to decide whether to put an arm around a new friend's shoulders, when we try to video call our parents despite a bad internet connection, or when we pick flowers from the roadside simply because they remind us of illustrations from books we read as children. Love is, and has always been, the only thing worth pining for.
The mermaid, perched on the stone by the fjord for more than a century, might one day be gone - destroyed or drowned by the waters of the earth that will eventually consume us all. But her yearning will continue to echo beyond time and space - because love is undying, and hope is immortal.
If you want a more detailed understanding of your own hopefulness (or lack thereof), try The Hope Barometer. Developed by scientists and researchers at the Netherlands Hope Research Institute, it's a short test that gives you some solid insight into where you lie on the hope spectrum. Take it and let me know if you can see the mermaid from where you're at.