There is no paradox here. Remember the notion that, if we want to live fulfilling lives, we must learn to distinguish between our wants and our needs? We still do. An example of a need is food; if this need is not met, we die from hunger. A want is a different thing: having it contributes to the enjoyment of our lives, but we could live without it or be satisfied to wait for it.
When we talk about Something More, it isn't wanting a fancier car, a bigger house, or a designer dress. Something More is what we need to fill our spiritual hunger. You don't want Something More. You need Something More. You feel deep within that something crucial is missing. You're constantly looking for it, but since you don't know what it is, the best you can hope is that if you run across it, you'll recognize or remember it. In defending your life you might say, "I know I should be happy. I am, really. Don't misunderstand me. I've got a great husband and fabulous kids, and we're all healthy. I've got a good job, wonderful friends. Mom's doing well in the nursing home. Our finances are okay, the credit cards are under control, and we've even started to save a little money. Next spring we're going on a cruise to the Bahamas. We're comfortable and content. And every day I'm grateful for my blessings. So why do I feel so empty?"
You're not alone. Reba McEntire, one of country music's superstars, ponders, just as we all do: "No matter what you achieve in life, you're always wondering, 'Is there something I should be doing? Is there something I'm missing?"'
Words can't begin to express my gratitude for my wonderful life. I'm living most of my dreams. Every day I say aloud, "I'm the most blessed woman on Earth" and I mean it. Which is why I was as confounded as I was comforted after I discovered the English novelist Vita Sackville-West's despair during what was supposed to have been the happiest time of her life. In 1930 her book, The Edwardians, was an enormous critical and popular success, providing her with financial security after a lifetime of being one of the educated, genteel poor. Her success enabled Vita and her new husband Harold Nicolson to purchase the romantic but rundown, Sissinghurst Castle and begin turning it into a renowned showplace. At thirty-eight she felt at the height of her creative energies and was in the throes of writing All Passion Spent, the novel that would be hailed her finest work. Still, she confessed to her best friend, Virginia Woolf': "If I, who am the most fortunate of women, can ask, 'What is life for?' how can other people live at all?" Not long after she confided her distress, she began a love affair which temporarily masked her depression but didn't alleviate it.
So here we are - you, Reba, Vita Sackville-West, and I - a group of talented, eclectic, even brilliant women. But at the end of the day, when we're finally alone, we're peering down into the black hole in our hearts. Our insatiable, inexplicable longing probes the emptiness much the same way you do when you can't keep your tongue out of the sensitive, empty spot that once held a decaying tooth.
"Many women today feel a sadness we cannot name. Though we accomplish much of what we set out to do, we sense that something is missing in our lives and - fruitlessly - search 'out there' for answers," writer Emily Hancock observes. "What's often wrong is that we are disconnected from an authentic self."
Excerpted from SOMETHING MORE, excerpted with permission of the publisher. Published by Warner Books.
Copyright (c) 1998 Sarah Ban Breathnach.
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