I hope

'I can buy you a blue Cher wig from the wig shop on Jaime III,' I said.

She smiled. Her eyes were closed. 'No more chemo, Darling,' she said. 'I'm not having my hair fall out.'

Although part of me knew without knowing that it would be a miracle if she survived, I was still hoping up until the doctor gave her something to make her sleep forever.

Hope can be a bastard.

But I can't imagine being without it, to be literally hopeless. If I was living in Syria, in a refugee camp on the Macedonian border or staring death in the face in a Spanish hospital room would I still hope? And do only some of us hope?

What is hope?

Positive psychologist CR Snyder linked hope to having a goal. His Hope Theory suggests that if you have goals, pathways to them and belief, you'll be hopeful, my child. But I've never had goals, pathways or beliefs. I just keep going. I take it for granted tomorrow will be better than today, in spite of all the crappy things that continue to happen to me - and to you, I'm sure.

This has nothing to do with having faith that the Yawniverse or God will provide. I don't believe in either (at this present moment in time). To me, life is fundamentally meaningless and, if something of us continues on after death, we'll only know that when it happens. All we have is right now and what we do with it. And tomorrow, of course.

So, am I an idiot?

There's a tendency to see hope-filled people as daft. Think of Dr Pangloss in Voltaire's Candide and his belief that all was always for the best. The 1947 English edition of the book was actuallly called Candide: or, Optimism. Intahmuhleckshewally, I agree with Voltaire - optimism is for idiots. But I still hope.

Where does it come from?

Hopeos - breakfast of champions

I think it's safe to share with you that I was a love child. My parents sacrificed for me (and my brothers), fed me properly, looked after my teeth, and raised me to believe I could do anything I set my mind to, which is why I'm a rocket scientist.

Did this make me a hopeful case? Or does it also come down to a genetic predisposition? Am I hopeful soul? My Mum and Dad are great 'get on with it' merchants but I'm not sure if that means I come from hopeful stock.

All I can really say is that, in my case, hope springs.

Can you become hopeful?

Snyder and a guy called KA Herth say you can. Herth's work on hope is mostly to do with his belief in the psychological benefits of establishing goals in relation to illness and recovery. He and others like him also claim that hope blocks pain, releases endorphins - mimicking the effect of morphine - and can set up a chain reaction that helps a patient get better.

(While I believe that's true in the short term, I'm not so sure about terminal illness. In my experience, when your number's up hope doesn't come into it. A person gives up the ghost when something inside them says 'Basta! Enough. Jupiter looks nice.')

I would say that if you're not born hopeful, it's true you can only grow hope if you have a goal to focus on, that you believe you can reach even if that's just staying alive. I swim a little further, love a little harder, write a little longer.

And if you're not already a hopeful case, I hope you'll find a way to make hope gush for you and yours.