Finding Hope Through Pandora’s Box

By Hayli ParryJanuary 29, 2024

If I’m being honest, hope is something I’ve never been great at holding onto. Sure, it’s easy to say that life goes on and it is what it is and call that hope—but I’m talking about real hope. That feeling that fills the hole in your chest and makes each breath a little easier than the last. I’ve spent my entire life on a scavenger hunt for just a spark of hope, searching high and low, sifting through moments, memories, and self-help books. The place I never expected to find that spark was in the booth of an old rundown diner, sitting across from my older sister.

“Have you ever heard the story of Pandora’s Box?” She suddenly asked, her voice interrupting my attention from the jukebox in the corner.

“The box that’s opened and all sorts of terrible things come out?” I questioned.

“Not just ‘terrible’ things, Pandora’s box, actually her jar, encapsulates within it all of the worst evils of the world. She was ordered by the Greek Gods that it must remain closed, never to be touched, and certainly never to be released.”

I turned my gaze to the menu in front of me but nodded for her to continue.

“But Pandora was the first female human to be placed on Earth by the Gods, and like all humans, she was curious. So, when she felt the time was right, she peeked into the jar, careful not to open it too much, cautious of what could be waiting inside. But what she saw inside shocked her, right down to her core,” she explained. “In her state of shock, she released the lid, sending all that evil she had witnessed into the world, to be witnessed by all others. She slammed the lid shut, trying to capture whatever terrible sins she could; but she had already released all the pain and suffering inside.”

I could see her out of the corner of my eye, softly waving her arms around as she elaborated.

“But why would the Gods trust a clumsy human with a box filled to the brim with such corruption? Certainly, they knew she would open it, right?” I responded, still studying my menu.

“They did. That is the sole reason the Gods gifted it to her.”

I lifted my eyes from the menu, meeting hers.

“Why would they want to fill their own world with sin?”

“Because, when she closed the jar, there was one thing that lay resting inside: hope. When the lid was removed, and all the agony poured out, it covered everything that it touched. The world became ungodly and full of sorrow. Optimism was wiped completely off the map. But, to aid all the anguish, was the hope, tucked away carefully below all the torment.”

I didn’t have a response, I simply held her eye contact. She smiled and continued.

“Pandora’s ‘Box,’ and Pandora herself, are much more similar to our lives than we would like to admit. We are given this life, this box, this jar, and told that there will be misery, mourning, and rage, among others, tucked inside and told to be wary of opening the lid. So, we keep in mind the fragility, and we try our best to keep the evils inside contained. But, it usually isn’t long until our jar is opened, whether it be by choice or by force, the jar is always opened. Someone passes away, a mental illness is diagnosed, or heartbreak is experienced, and the lid is opened. All of the agonies come rushing out, swallowing the world whole, spreading that haze of devastation,” she said. “But, inside the box, waiting for its time to slowly pour out—is hope. The hope must have patience, as does the individual experiencing this. As the hope flows out, it starts to absorb the hurt, little by little. Hope plants itself in small and hidden ways like watering your plants or seeing a shooting star. Each positive instance consumes a bit of the pain until all the hope has emerged and melted all the grief away. In life, we are unable to experience the hope and the building of optimism, if we never open our lid.” She finished with a triumphant smile.

I offered a small one in return.

We sat in silence for a few seconds until the jukebox changed and she went on to speak about how this particular jukebox had the greatest selection out of all the other diners in town. I kept the small smile on my face, still trying to put together all the words she had spoken, seemingly so nonchalantly; like she was making simple conversation rather than throwing me a rope and pulling me closer to the shore with each sentence.

We split the bill and exited the diner, stepping outside into the clean summer air. I smiled at the warmth of the sun on my face, feeling as though those small hands of hope were already reaching towards the sky, and feeling that each breath was a little easier than the last.

People need other people. You are not weak for wanting or needing support. If you’re seeking professional help, we encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at [email protected]

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Comments (2)

  1. Amy Carter

    Wow you just described my hole life to me! God bless you Hayli Parry

    Reply  |  
  2. Phyllis Webb

    That is such a beautiful and well thought out piece of written expression that I have read. Well written with meaning and skill. Very inspiring!

    Reply  |  
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