The Hungers of Life III

There are times in the life of all when, weak and worn with the struggle, the ebb-tide of hope seems to carry out with it all inspiration, all impulse, all incentive. In the darkest night of a great loss, a paralyzing pain, or a voiceless grief we seem to lose our very bearings on life, and weak, trembling hands hold the useless compass of our purpose. We see nothing to live for, and life does not then seem worth living. At such an hour gentle words of comfort and courage and companionship—words that come glowing from the very soul of another, not empty, cheap commonplaces that roll flippantly from the tongue—come as living food to the hungry heart.

When the trials of the individual life seem hard to bear and the failures of our best efforts tempt us to overthrow the altars of our ideals, and all that we have held high and best seems empty delusion, we feel this hunger for a loving friend, a counselor, a guide. We want fresh, kindly eyes of those who really care to look at our problems, to help us to regain our faith in humanity, our belief in ourselves, our trust in the certainty of the final triumph of right, love, justice and truth.

To feed the heart-hungry we must give the positives of our life, not the negations. We must give our strength, not our weakness; our certainties, not our fears; our radiant finalities of decision, not our unsettled dilemmas.” ~ William George Jordan

I had the good fortune to have been born into a family that prized and managed to maintain stability throughout my youth. No doubt my parents were dealing at times with the vicissitudes of life, but they always managed to keep my brothers and I insulated from the uncertainty, uneven pressures and the waxing and waning of resources. In this sense, they were, and continue to be, perfect parents.

Now that my children and my field of responsibility are growing I am compelled to offer the same to them and to those for whom I am responsible. As usual, that is easier said than done, in fact, the way things are in the world today, you are swimming against a powerful current if you take such an approach. All kinds of forces work to distract you from this purpose, yet it is clear to me that now more than ever we need men and women who will live up to this high standard and who are capable of providing strength, certainties and decisiveness in times of upheaval and uncertainty.

At a certain point in life you are exposed to the fact that life has its ups and downs. Some discover this much earlier than others, but virtually everyone must face this central challenge of living at one point or another. Whether you came to terms with this at a young age or only moments ago, the vital thing to realize is that you can always, no matter what your station or present resource base, feed the heart-hungry. Life will have its ups and its downs and there is absolutely no point in whining, complaining or blaming when you hit the low points, in fact, those tend to be the most defining of times and you are wise to use them to your advantage.

I have come to realize that the surest way to have a reserve of the stuff of encouragement is to eschew the tendency to focus on or obsess with the “negatives” as Mr. Jordan described them. This does not mean that you deny their presence, for the negatives are ubiquitous, but you can strategically downplay them while emphasizing the positives of life.

What you feed with your attention will tend to grow in the soil of your life.

You needn’t have an ideal upbringing to serve your world radiantly. In fact, sometimes the unfortunate lessons in life serve as character building exercises that would be quite difficult to replicate under less stressful, more ideal circumstances. There are those who say pain and suffering are necessary to know love and joy, but I beg to differ. A world without the former could still be full of the latter, but in the meantime we have some work to do.

8 thoughts on “The Hungers of Life III

  • With the world the way it is you are almost certain not to find true sustainable peace in it, but where we nourish the heart and clear the debris of negative concerns, we allow a clear place for joy, peace and the wisdom to handle even the toughest of circumstances. Then after that, you can truly “live” in the world. I love to hear the way Mr. Jordan doesn’t sugar coat dysfunction, but instead leads you like a horse with blinders on through the firey tunnel of truth, only to uncover and let you see the light of your own responsibility out in the safety of the otherside! Bravo!!

  • I have this conversation quite often in my work, where people who come to me for advice have acquired a strong distaste, a repulsion even, with the current medical system. They seemed to have emphasized its flaws way over its virtues, and as a result have become more lost in finding the right type of help they so desperately need. We have to seek the good, find the positive, emphasize that in order to make our way through life. Without this moral compass, not only do we get sidetracked, but things like bitterness, anger, distrust, and worst of all – the dying of our faith – all begin to take residence in our heart. These can begin to grow like bad weeds and will choke the life force right out of us if we don’t quickly reorient ourselves. Gotta get a grip on reality, what is Real above all the reals around us. It’s funny to see how media spins what’s around us; the first report on a TV news segment is typically some tragedy, and it always come first.
    First things first I say. It would be way different if we all collectively put First Things first. Our first concern, our first love, the first need that people have. In my work with people’s health needs, typically in the beginning that involves some restoration of both faith and hope that they can get better. The heart indeed is a jewel to be carefully tended. Nice writing, enjoying these posts!

  • When faced for any period of time with the “voiceless grief” so eloquently described here, it can seem natural and justifiable to lapse into the common pits of blame and conviction of futility. Whether or not we be parents biologically, however, we are all responsible for developing cycles and for others in various ways. Would we abandon our children? Would we force them to digest and meet what we ourselves cannot? No noble parent would allow that to happen! Come what may, the sancitity of Home is maintained to the highest of our ability. On this basis the dread darkness can give way in season to the dawn, but in fact we never forgot the Reality of the sun!

  • Having a tendency towards fear, I’ve realized that a strategy can be adopted at a young age; if you realize the worst that can happen in a situation, and look at it, somehow it made it easier to bear the unknown. It was probably the precariousness of the world that I experienced but never the less what your post today is proposing sounds a much healthier outlook. I was also blessed with wonderful parents. Our lives were altered a great deal by tragedy but my parents courage to face the issues, is to this day, amazing to me. Sometimes the young and the others can not be shielded from the facts but they can see how to face adversity. That’s when, as you say, character can be built. Character that will assist you to change some of the aberrations developed as coping strategies or as a result of the circumstances.
    Thanks for your words.

  • If we are wise, we can take a look at the previous low points in our lives and discern some things that we learned when we were in them. Even if we handled them then in a less than ideal way, we are able to take our lessons from them now. Now the low points of our future are a different story. Our aim should be to walk through life with a preternatural equanimity that takes no heed of circumstance. We can do this on our own, but it is much easier to have a support network that will help when we are heart-hungry. They help redirect our attention to the positives, and they fertilize life’s soil so that the ups of life can arrive more quickly.

  • What a beautiful descriptiono of hope and possibility for all, that no matter what your past, you can still have an amazing present and future if you so choose!

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