Why is it that most of us go on seeking more even when we already have enough? Where does this sense of impoverishment come from? Most of us have our basic needs met in our lives and, at least, a few luxuries besides. Yet deep within ourselves, we feel poor.
I am not speaking of merely financial impoverishment. Ah, no. This inner sensation of poverty oftentimes afflicts those who are rich most of all. For those things that are of true value are things money can’t buy. When a person has enough money, yet says he is unhappy, how many of us scoff at his complaints? How can one take a rich person seriously when he says he feels poor? Alas, we have such an obscure, rudimentary understanding of the state of poverty that engulfs the human soul.
Do we truly imagine that wealth makes one’s soul or spirit richer? It’s rather baffling, one must admit, that we are still surprised when people who are rich and famous commit suicide and/or become addicted to things that ultimately destroy their lives. What little understanding others might have provided them with is generally replaced by envy over their material possessions, affluent lifestyle, and celebrity status. These people are the elect ones — the ones who “have it all.” But are they?
There have been so many writers, musicians, and artists, whose understanding of this poverty of the human soul has come through their work. Those who are not intuitive enough to feel the personal pain behind these creations merely attribute them to brilliance or innovativeness. But brilliance does not give one the ability to reach inside oneself and express the impoverishment within. And although innovativeness may influence the way a person expresses his inner poverty, it is not what enables him to admit it and share it with others.
It is vulnerability that gives one the ability to open one’s heart and soul. Yet this very vulnerability often seems to increase the sense of poverty in one’s soul. It is far easier to surround one’s soul with walls so that the emptiness within is never seen. That which cannot be affirmed by others is often denied by ourselves. But these walls, however formidable they may seem to be, are rarely impenetrable. There are people and events in one’s life that temporarily break down the walls and, during these times, the poverty in a person’s soul is laid bare for all to see. And it is in such moments that it also becomes the most real to us, for only when we are forced to admit something are we compelled to deny it.
If we are brave, we find a way to use the times of genuine vulnerability to achieve a deeper understanding of ourselves. Yet such courage is not common, particularly since it involves pulling off the proverbial social mask one wears. Granted, getting in touch with our inner poverty is our only chance of ever diminishing it, but many of us would prefer to cover it up as best we can so that we can continue to deny it — even to ourselves.
Or, perhaps, it is to ourselves that we are least inclined to admit it.
This essay and all written material at My Odyssey is written by Sascha Norris. (C) Copyright 2012 by Sascha Norris. All Rights Reserved.