Losing heart. I have thought endlessly about this phenomenon. It is so striking how so many very talented and highly accomplished individuals/leaders that I have known, have lost heart.
What is implied in such an observation? Obviously, this is a subjective view. What I mean is a sense and conclusion that many that I have known and loved get to a point where the light goes out. They wonder…wonder what their life consisted of, what it added up to? What is the sum total of all that I have accomplished both good and bad? And why do I feel so utterly empty and alone? The remake of the film What’s It All About Alfie? rings in my ears. For him, it added up to a big zero. Whether the role was played by Jude Law or by the great English actor in the initial making of the film, Michael Caine, the resulting sadness was constant and troubling. It added up to lonliness and a feeling of utter despair. How sad and how contemporary.
In the morning, I try to focus upon something high-minded and inspirational. This morning, I was struck by an observation by a 1st century pilgrim. He was a man like you or me (or a woman), a guy trying to figure it out and find a way to connect with meaning and hope. Here is his observation penned 2000 years ago.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary
troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So
we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen
is temporal, but what is unseen is eternal.
It is utterly amazing to me that the same internal challenges stirred within the hearts and souls of others thousands of years ago. The age old question remains: how do we not lose heart?
In our last PathNorth gathering in New York, several weeks back, it was said in many ways, but Dr. Oz seemed to nail it with his observation of our deep need for connectedness. This is the entire premise of all that we are doing with PathNorth, considering the critical importance of having others in our lives. The incredible paradox seems to be that the more ‘significant’ we become, the more accomplished we become, the richer we become….you fill in the blank….the result seems to be isolation. Isolation, the enemy of keeping heart. When we are alone, we doubt, we fear, we exaggerate our problems and our fears can overwhelm us. Others in our lives help us keep perspective, hope and groundedness.
Another element to losing heart seems to be our belief that others ‘have it together’. With my two older boys in a rock band, I am constantly thinking about music, both contemporary and a bit back. I was recently considering some lines from the song Hero by Phil Collins and David Cosby. Take a look:
Well it was one of those great stories
That you can’t put down at night
The hero knew what he had to do
And he wasn’t afraid to fight
The villain goes to jail, while the hero goes free
I wish it were that simple for me.
Indeed, we all wish it were much simpler where the good guys win and our families were ‘perfect’, whatever that means.
Part of not losing heart is accepting the fact that you are not God, that you are limited, and that you likely did the best you could with the knowledge you had. In fact, many of us need to stop beating ourselves up and realize how little control we have over anything. At first, that thought is terrifying but then it is utterly liberating. We are people on a journey, with a finite time span. By letting go of the notion of fixing things….ourselves, our family, our children, our co-workers, the world….we can perhaps find a peace that enables us to let go and live day by day in utter peace. Couple that with the fact that our time is finite and limited and therefore should be devoted to serving others, and bingo, a plan, though somewhat ill-defined begins to emerge.
So find others to accompany you on your journey. None of us wants to end up where Lord Byron did when he lamented :
WHAT IS THE WORST OF WOES THAT WAIT AN AGE?
What stamps the wrinkle deeper on the brow?
To view each loved one blotted from life’s age.
And be alone on earth, as I am now.
How sad and how unnecessary. Yet we must take a risk and decide to develop real friendships and vulnerable relationships. Hey, don’t be so afraid. It is actually pretty exciting to be known and loved.
So how not to lose heart? Keeping a sense of your limitations and need to connect with others. We are more alike than different. As a friend constantly reminds me, we are grown up children. We are terrified with the thought that we wont be chosen. By celebrating each day and being thankful for what’s working rather than lamenting what is broken, we get a glimpse of the eternal. It is all mystery. Letting go is a big part of capturing the utter delight in being a human with passion for living.
These are the rambling thoughts of a madman…and your fellow pilgrim. doug