A man wrote me recently to let me know that he no longer felt the vigor of his youth, no longer felt motivated by the dreams that had sustained him for so long. He felt lost. He questioned everything and no longer trusted anything. He asked what was wrong with him, and why he should even “bother anymore.” He assured me that he wasn’t suicidal, just stuck in some “no man’s land.” Was he depressed? Perhaps. Was this a particular pathology or something more universal? Was it possible that the land he found himself stranded in was every man (and woman’s) land? Could be. If we’re blessed to live long enough, doesn't each of us eventually find ourselves mired in the murk of doubt and uncertainty for a time?
I struggled with how to respond to his question, “why bother?” for a time and then I recalled a quote in Sue Monk Kidds book, “When the Heart Waits” by Janice Brewi and Anne Brennan from their book, “Midlife.” The quote read:
“When, one day in mid-life one comes to doubt oneself- and all one’s relationships and commitments, and when the pain and anxiety of this dropping away of… energy from all that formerly was so life-giving begins to overwhelm, there surfaces the depth question: Why bother? Lucky the one who lets that question stand…That question is a prayer.”
"Why bother?" can become a sacred quest if asked with an open heart, one that widens our horizens, and seldom satisfied with easy answers, often calls us into a deeper more meaningful way of seeing and being.