The Secret of Life: The Fourth Secret
A REVIEW OF THE FIRST THREE SECRETS
And so it was decided by this solitary writer, sitting in his writing studio in Olympia, Washington, that there are certain secrets of life and happiness that all contented and fulfilled people share. I did not discover these truths while on a reflective vision quest in the Arctic, nor did they appear to me in a dream. They are the result of sixty-four years of stumbling along on this planet and observing this creature called man.
The first secret is, of course, love, and it is of equal measure a love of ourselves and a love of others.
The second secret is to have purpose and productivity in life, and the third secret is to be accepting of ourselves, others, and also accepting of the fact that we cannot control everything in our lives.
Finally that brings us to the fourth secret of life, a quality that is unique to mankind.
- The Secret of Life: The First Secret
The first in a series discussing what is important in life. Join the author as he reflects on his findings during his lifetime.
- The Secret of Life: The Second Secret
What is our purpose? What is our goal in life? How do we discover the meaning of it all? Those are the questions that I have attempted to answer with this series of articles.
- The Secret of Life: The Third Secret
Are you looking for the secret to life and happiness? You might just find it has always been inside of you waiting to break free.
Take a moment and try to imagine not having hope of any kind. For most of you reading this, that is an impossible task, for in truth most of us are hopeful from the first time we form an intelligent thought to the time we lay on our final resting place and see that hope can no longer be considered.
What are we hopeful for? How much time do you have? We are hopeful of a better life. We are hopeful for happiness and love, and we are hopeful for a great paying job and adulation and respect. Our hopes are as mundane as the hope for a cold beer after work and they are as complicated and lofty as our hope for world peace.
We are told that to hope is to wish for something with an expectation of fulfillment, and practically all of us have experienced hope during our lifetime.
I remember talking to a high school buddy of mine about ten years after we had graduated. I ran into him in downtown Tacoma, and we spent a few minutes catching up on the ten years that had passed, and then we talked about what we were doing then and what we were hoping for in the future.
His words have stayed with me for over thirty years. He told me he had no hope for the future, that his life had turned to shit and he saw no point in hoping for something that would never happen.
He killed himself two years after our meeting. He drove his car to a neighborhood park and blew his brains out while listening to the Moody Blues.
Again, try to imagine not having hope of any kind.
I have known five people during my lifetime who committed suicide. I have thought of them often and I still, to this day, cannot understand being them at that moment when they ended their life. Such is the strength of hope in my life that I cannot conceive of being in such a dark place emotionally that there is no hope. I came close six years ago while in the throes of alcoholism, but still there was a sliver of hope that led me to call a friend and ask for help. Darkness the likes of which I have never known but still, a sliver of hope could be seen by my alcohol-blurred eyes.
UNIQUE AMONG SPECIES
No other species on this planet hopes. Hope requires wishing and a concept of expectations, and it requires a belief system that is not experienced by any other living organism. Perhaps, too, it requires faith. No, not a faith in the supernatural or divine, but a faith in the natural order of life, that if these things are done then these things are likely to happen. It rejects the Chaos Theory and embraces the sublime joy of order.
Yes, we were taught by Pavlov’s dogs that there is a certain expectation of reward if a bell is rung, but there is certainly no act of wishing involved. It is response to stimuli, pure and simple, and most definitely does not require wishing to proceed.
SO WHY DO SOME HOPE WHILE OTHERS REJECT HOPE?
It’s an interesting question is it not? What is there about some people that leads them to give up all hope, while others, living in the most horrendous of circumstance, still manage to hold onto hope?
I have known people who have lived in abject poverty, many days not even able to find food to eat, and yet they had hope for the future, while others, like my friend already mentioned, who seemed to have it all in the way of possessions, had no hope at all and chose to end their lives.
I suspect the difference is found in our DNA and it is as simple as that. I can think of no other explanation. Some can only see darkness in a room full of light, while others see the slightest ray of light in the darkest of circumstances.
I have heard some tell me that there is always hope, and yet I have seen proof that for some people that is not true, for what we believe has a way of becoming our reality despite all proof to the contrary. If we do not believe there is hope then there is none.
Hope, then, is a purely subjective characteristic.
HOW, THEN, DO WE FIND HOPE?
“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
I love that quote by Havel. Hope is the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. All well and good, but how do we find that hope? Where does it come from?
It seems to me that we manufacturer our own hope. It may be as simple as finding hope in the birth of our children. Millions of people found hope in the birth of a child over two thousand years ago, and they continue to find hope in that same child after his death. There is no logic behind it; it just is, a hope based on faith and as individual as our genetic building blocks.
It also seems to me that we must be willing to allow hope into our lives. An analogy would be the glass half full or glass half empty. We believe what we choose to believe, so can hope be any different? If we choose to have hope we will have it, and the opposite is true as well.
These are not absolute statements on my part but rather musings about a very complicated topic. Of course there are those with psychiatric problems, or medical problems such as clinical depression, who may not be able to manufacture hope. However, for most of us who do not have such problems, hope is within our reach if we are willing to reach out to grasp it.
A moment with Bill
The secret of life, and by extension happiness, is really as simple or as complicated as we choose to make it. Look at the characteristics that are unique to mankind. To be without one or more of those characteristics is to deny a part of your humanness and thus to deny ourselves of the complete experience.
Love…..productivity or purpose….acceptance….hope….and more to come in the next part of this series.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)