On a break for lunch, I fumbled across an old (long) blog post of mine. I needed to read it today. Maybe someone else needs it too... here is the heart of it. Here is the rest if you want: https://bit.ly/you-dont-give-up
We travel well-worn roads of distress, success, and suffering; paths trod by billions of souls. Some souls lay in the ditches with sad warnings on their lips—those who did not make it. But, echoes of encouragement ring from up ahead— from those who did make it. The echoes and warnings are sometimes so faint that we can barely distinguish them from the wind; other times they scream so loudly that they can not be ignored. When you hear them the first times, you hear that both the fallen and the victor sing 'Don't give up'. But when you pass their way again...(way on down the line) it is evident that you misheard them.
They are not making a command, they are simply asking you a question. The same question they were asked, and either answered or did not answer.
We find It was only the trick of our mind in whatever conditions we were entangled in that made us think to hear them in such a vigorous voice screaming 'Don't give up young traveler!".
When really, they spoke quietly and always had. Not commanding, but asking us to answer the only question we must all answer. It is a simple one but may take a lifetime to answer. That question is: What in all of your life is worth not giving up on (or for)?
An Active Answer To Don't Give Up
This is the question we must answer—even if it takes a lifetime (and it will). For we WILL 'give up' for as long as what we aim for is something less than the one thing worth not giving up for.
Now, what that one thing is, I believe, can be different for us all and is differently answered throughout life. It most likely will be found via those more literal aims I mentioned above, but they should not be confused as the object itself. They are only a finger pointing the way of our own individual quest.
And do not fool yourself that it is a simple answer that you can look it up in a book, hear it in a sermon, or touch it in a psychedelic meditation; then gladly put it to bed and go along your happy way.
Though the question is simple—it is not a simple answer. In fact, it is a rare thing indeed that some even attempted to answer those echoes and warnings stirring in the heart.
If we have any hope of not giving up; we must first realize that it is not a statement, it is a question. What in all of your life is worth not giving up on?
Many of the lesser 'gods' fall away when this question is asked truly and with our mortality in clear focus.
Some may say at this point, "hey there, why make such a huge drama about this question. I can answer it right now! It's the simple things of life, the things we take for granted, children, relationships, love, caring for one another." And right you are... this is part of the answer for sure. But in its mere generality, it is not the answer. That is why even when those who can boast of great success in these simple things of life, (if they admit it) still find themselves often bewildered, aimless, lacking some mysterious 'something' and wanting more.
C.S. Lewis imagined this unmet need in humanity as a desire for heaven. There is an argument for the existence of God based on this one unmet desire called the argument from desire and while that subject is well beyond this little chapter's scope; The idea of such an argument though, goes far to show that it is well known that all of our needs can be met, even abundantly so, even spiritually and altruistically so, yet still, we will hunger with the one desire that has no counter here in this plane.
The question's difficulty is not that it can not be answered along the journey. It will be by most of us, many times over. Its difficulty is that it will be asked again, and we will find ourselves once again unable to clearly answer it.
Its difficulty is that it must be answered over and over with the stakes growing higher and higher—ever asking us to simplify its formulation, to get closer to its individual essence inside our individual hearts.
It is an answer that can not be said with words; so cannot be told to you from another. It must be acted out over a lifetime.
Much like the character in a novel; we don't have much of a choice, our story will play out, it will have a middle, a plot, a subplot and it will end. In a definite moment, the end credits will roll.
Plot your plot
... now, if you're a human and my writing is not completely appalling to your senses; that last line about 'the end' caused some emotional event in you.
Discussions about the end do that to us all. They are supposed to. But think of it, in this context, as an anxiety (anger.. or whatever emotional spike it caused) or emotional reaction to a really tough question posed to you; a question that you feel you must answer. For that is what it is.
Death is a question posed to you alone. Posed to your life. That is why no one can answer this question for you. Your question is not asked of their life. It is asked of your life. That emotional event is the sound of those echoes of voices I talked about asking: What in all of YOUR life is worth not giving up on?
Did an answer spring up in your heart? That is probably the right answer. That's the tricky part... we really know the answer. We are sometimes just afraid to admit it. Don't worry; it will be asked many times more; maybe it will be the same answer you give. Maybe a deeper clarity in the answer; maybe a different answer altogether. Don't worry about that.
All you have to do is answer and say, this is worth not giving up.