How Do You View The Concept Of Hope?

tlm icon-1By Tim Thompson

San Quentin State Prison


Hope is a great thing. Maybe the most important thing that a human being can have. In life, people tend to judge their circumstance by whether it is better or worse than someone else’s. For instance, I see men here at San Quentin every day who are on death row. These men must be handcuffed any time that they exit their cell to go anywhere. Most of them will never have any physical contact with another person for as long a they live. When I look at these men, I can’t help but think how fortunate I am not to be in that situation.

However, the truth of the matter is prison is prison. Physically, none of us has the freedom to live our lives as we choose. In my opinion, the only thing that makes our situation different is our hope for the future. My hope is to go home soon while their’s is to find a way not to be executed. Hope is a coping mechanism that helps our minds deal with the imbalance between our fantasy and our reality. We hope for a better tomorrow and so we are able to push forward today. We must, however, understand how to balance hope with gratitude. In all of u,m there is a very fine line between our wants and needs. This is what makes billionaires crave their next million.

We have an insatiable appetite for more. We can become so caught up in chasing our hopes that we forget how to enjoy what we already have. How much is enough? That is a question that each of us must answer for ourselves. One metric should be: If you spend time chasing things that you want because you are not happy with what you have, then maybe happiness will come from helping others get what they need. Growing up, I saw over 15 of my friends buried because of gang violence before I reached the age of 20. Even worse is the fact that nearly all of them were under the age of 25. I continuously remind myself that as bad as my situation may be, there is a reason why I am still here. Yes, hope is a beautiful thing.

My hope is to one day soon be able to spend time with the people I care about and also help them financially as they get older. I also want to find a nice lady to share my life with. And so I continue to hope for a brighter tomorrow, but I am also grateful for waking up today.


All communications between inmates and external channels are facilitated by approved volunteers since inmates do not have access to the internet. This program is part of The Last Mile San Quentin. Twitter:  @TLM

  • james

    Tim, very inspiring and appropriate during this holiday season. Thank you.

    • The Daily Love

      Thanks for reading and sharing, James. Happy Holidays! -TDL Team

  • Great article Tim. I definitely agree that to be truly
    happy you have to be thankful for what you have. It doesn’t mean you can’t stay hungry and strive for more, but gratitude is a powerful force.

    • The Daily Love

      Gratitude is powerful for sure! Thanks for reading and sharing, Noah! -TDL Team

  • Sande

    Tim, I imagine your environment has afforded you an incredible gift – a gift that we all have access to but rarely visit, the gift of time and space for reflection. Your views on the balance of hope and gratitude are exactly what I need to hear today – thank you. May your heart be filled with abundant love and peace.

    • The Daily Love

      So glad this resonated with you Sande! -TDL Team

  • Damascus Girl

    This is a nice article and asks a very complicated question. I often wonder what “hope” means. I think many people believe that if you HOPE, then your wishes and dreams will come true. I’ve lived long enough to know that that is not true. I fully appreciate the author’s comment when he says that hope is a coping mechanism.
    For me, I find it very hard to achieve the balance. I don’t want to hope too much, but at the same time, I find the present to be unfulfilling. I am 43 so it is too late to have children, and it may be too late to find someone to share my life with – I never had much luck with dating when I was younger and now that I’m older the pickings are very slim. I struggle financially, etc etc – I think we all have some type of struggle going on, but the real question is whether hoping for the nutrients of life (love, family, connections) will manifest. Or does hope just make for interesting fantasies when you’re alone and unloved
    Food for thought.

    • The Daily Love

      We believe it’s never too late here at TDL! Setting an intention and working towards it is important to achieve anything in life. We’re wishing you the best as you continue your life journey… Keep us posted on how everything goes in 2014! -TDL Team

  • Aurelio

    Very well said, Tim…

    Thank you…


    • The Daily Love

      Thank YOU for reading, Aurelio 🙂 -TDL Team

  • Dianne

    Beautiful Man, we see you, we hear you, we feel you. You give us hope. I think one of the most unfortunate issues regarding individuals in prison ~ is that people forget that regardless of our location, we all want to be loved. I met my husband a year after his release from prison. We have an amazing relationship. We love each other for who we are, nothing more nothing less, and we love like there is no tomorrow, the future will take care of itself. All the things you desire, are here, at the right time, divine time, you will be connected to them. I wish you peace, hope, and LOVE. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. Keep your head up, we got you. 🙂

    • The Daily Love

      We sure do 🙂 Thanks for reading, Dianne! -TDL Team


    Great post Tim, I remember being so caught upon what I did not have that I could not appreciate all that I did. I came to that realization behind those very walls. With every article that each of you men write, you are sending hope. May you continue to show the world all the hope for the future, that we have contained behind those walls. Look forward to seeing you on the freedom hike!

    • The Daily Love

      Thanks for sharing your kind words with Tim! -TDL Team

  • Leslie

    Hi, Tim!

    BRAVO! WELL DONE! KUDOS! I so appreciated your very personal and
    introspective essay on hope! To have
    hope is in and of itself a gift! No
    matter who we are, no matter what our financial status, health condition, age,
    race, color or creed…hope drives us, propels us, motivates us. When in an adverse situation, it’s so important to look forward to a positive change or outcome. Reason being…there are so many different kinds of prisons and imprisonment; physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Some are self inflicted and some are inflicted upon us. But the spirit, the mind, the imagination; hope,
    prayer faith …rise above the limitations of our confinements and situations.

    Also loved how you intertwined and made mention of balancing hope with gratitude. Right on! The two are essential, go hand-in- hand….mirror
    each other. Thank you for reminding us how important it is to enjoy the small
    things that present themselves to us on a daily basis. True joy and happiness
    are not necessarily,…actually rarely dependant on our possession and
    accumulation of things. Rather, they are dependent on our state of mind/attitude
    and genuine appreciation for what present itself to us at any given time.

    Recently, I visited San Quentin prison and I remarked on the absolutely stunning view of the night sky above the San Francisco Bay waters. What a gift of a night sky that was! The key is to not become inured to the daily thins in life, but to learn to be open and childlike; to see, receive and experience things afresh.

    Tim…it was so wonderful to hear how you hope to one day be able to spend time with the people that you care about , as well as be in the position to help them financially as they get older. That reminds me of a quote from a book I read titled GARDEN SPELLS by author Sarah Addison Allen

    “When you’re happy for yourself, it fills you. When you’re happy for someone else, it pours over”.

    Thank you again for your wonderful essay on Hope! God bless you and keep you, Tim!

    Leslie H. and Family
    “For this is the day the Lord hath made; let us rejoice
    and be glad in it” – Psalm 118:24

  • Chrisfino Kenyatta Leal

    Speak on it Tim and let the world know what I already know…that you are much more than a prison number. Keep striving for your goals and know without a doubt that you’re not alone.
    Much love and Respect,