I honor Dr. King's birthday with one of his quotes. He probably was referring to struggles for peace and justice in the external world. However, I think this quote is equally applicable to our internal world.
Disappointment is an inherent part of life; things don't always work out the way we imagine or the way we intended or wished they would. Loss, disappointment, betrayal, heartbreak, often feel so devastating that many people wish to bypass or avoid these experiences entirely. But to avoid disappointment is to avoid life, to avoid living. By avoiding the possibility of pain, the possibility of happiness and joy are also eclipsed.
I think the take-away from MLK's quote is to remember that disappointment is finite, "having definite and definable limits," although it may not feel that way! We must accept these setbacks, roadblocks, obstacles or suffering as finite, as we go along our life's path. And throughout all these finite disappointments, to hold onto infinite, "subject to no limitation or external determination," hope for our lives.
Relationships, jobs, family, health,friends, state of mind or being may not turn out how we thought they would, or how we envisioned them. But can we continue to accept and move forward in our lives, making it the best life we can? Can we continue to find more internal resources to draw upon to never give up that "Infinite Hope?"
Peggy Handler, MFT, is a psychotherapist in San Francisco's Noe Valley