It’s a hunger that needs to be satisfied. It’s in all of us. We have a need to make something out of our lives. To be recognized for something positive. And when we don’t reach our desired goals, we feel like a failure, cheated, unworthy. We question our own self-worth. It can leave us despondent. We ask ourselves if only we can reach our goals….or become the persons we were meant to be…..
Let’s face facts: few people have it together. Few lives are to be admired. Each person has his or her setbacks. A person may have had success with a project. But that is no guarantee success will follow on his next projects.
And when we pursue our dreams, the road to success is often “under construction with many detours”. When I ran my sketch comedy troupe for the psychiatric/physically challenged communities to participate in about 20 years ago, I was looking for inspiration. I would read books exploring the creative process of writers, producers, entertainers, etc. Number one rule is that the creative process was not etched in stone; it was constantly evolving.
And because we reach a certain plateau of success, we feel our problems have been resolved. We must realize than once we reach that plateau, more problems will present themselves. As Dr. Leo Buscaglia writes in his book “Personhood” speaking about obtaining more wealth and power: “we simply have acquired new anxieties and different doubts.” And as Oscar Wilde writes: there are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants and the other is getting it.
But for many of us, the challenge isn’t achieving goals but rather finding direction, a purpose to live for. Trying to find that direction, that purpose is an achievement in of itself. We are lost, confused – like a ship in rough seas without a rudder. We think about the author of Ecclesiastics from the Old Testament who writes: “All is futile”. (Ecclesiastics1:14).
At this time, we would be wise to adhere to Emily Dickinson’s poem:
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
We dream big. We want success. There’s nothing wrong with this attitude. But it’s the little things that matter as well. How many of us have given a warm smile to someone who may be hurting? Bought a sandwich and coffee to a homeless person? Opened a door for a complete stranger?
I recently went out to lunch with some friends. One person had no money. He was going to watch us eat and I felt bad. So, I treated him to a coffee. One lady offered him some of her French Fries. Another bought him a salad. It was no big deal on my part. But we made him feel part of our group. And he was grateful. Maybe one day, he will return the favor.
We all have something to offer and it doesn’t have to cost “an arm and a leg.” There are many hurting, lonely people out there who need our attention. As St. Francis of Assisi states in his prayer: “for it is in the giving that we receive.”