I have been feeling really overwhelmed lately, and although it never reached a serious point, I entertained the idea of giving up on my work. To lift my spirits, my husband forwarded me a video by Diana Nyad, the 64 year-old swimmer who finally triumphed, crossing the treacherous waters between Cuba and Florida on her 5th try. After swimming about 58 hours straight, when Diana finally reached the shores of FL, while in a state of total exhaustion and hallucination, she had just enough energy to murmur the words “Never, Ever Give Up.” It was not only inspiring to witness her victorious feat, but exactly the words I needed to hear.
We’ve all wanted to throw in the towel at different times in our lives. I remember when my sister Sun, while battling cancer, wanted to give up on life many times, as the chemo treatments were not only destroying her body but, more tragically, killing her spirit. Sun knew my mother would be so devastated by her death, so she fought her best to live for my mother. I don’t know if this was a good enough reason — to live for someone else — but Sun’s love for my mom was so deep, she knew she had to try. I admire Sun for being so selfless in her time of grave hardship by putting my mother first.
As we all know, our time on Earth is very limited, so how do we know when it’s time to give up on something. When does perseverance become just wasted perspiration? Diana said that she had been dreaming about making that journey across the ocean since her 20’s and that is was so deep in her soul. I reflected on the words “deep in her soul,” which made so much sense to me why she never gave up on her dreams. It is only when we touch “deep in our souls” can we find our true calling. Nelson Mandela, who even after being imprisoned in jail for 27 years, never gave up on a better tomorrow for his people because he believed so deep in his soul that human justice and equality would prevail.
Whether or not we’re pursuing a life of true calling, each of us has had glimpses of moments when we’ve tapped into our own deep soul, making us overwhelmed with emotions, perhaps it was witnessing a friends wedding or a watching a beautiful movie or hearing a heartfelt news story. By tapping into our deep soul, we are touching upon something much higher than ourselves, which is when become ulitmatelty fulfilled.
When you’ve discovered your calling, you feel a strong magnetic pull which you can not resist followed by a deep sense of responsibility to fulfill your purpose. When Mother Teresa answered the “call within the call” to serve the poorest of the poor, she asked God why she was given so much responsibility. While her obstacles were enormous, she never wavered for one second because it was deep in her soul that God called upon her to do the work. While my virtues pale in comparison to that of Mother Teresa’s, I understand how she felt. An undeniable force, I feel a strong light emanating from my sister Sun (the “yang”) on me (the “yin”) to carry out this mission to serve others by spreading messages on healthy and happy living — the life she never lived and the reason for her death. Because of this calling, I feel a deep sense of stewardship and responsibility in my work. And I also feel enormously blessed that my sister Sun, my spiritual guardian angel, and the Universe are always showing me the way to fulfill this purpose.
When you embrace your true calling, it is what allows you to persevere for as long as it takes. And you can not possibly give up because then you would feel like you’ve betrayed yourself, which is when you feel resentful and angry about your life. On our journey, many times the path will feel very lonely, confusing, and dark, which are the days you want to quit. During these days, I become more introspective about my true purpose, and I always come out feeling more stronger than before. Like a diamond in the rough, you have to keep digging, and digging deep, to find the hidden treasures, as Lao Tzu said:
“The Path into light seems dark, the path forward seems to go back, the direct path seems long, true clarity seems obscure…”
While there is some goal in mind, we should always focus on the journey, not the destination. When you place your energy and thoughts on the destination, you are never living in the present moment, which is when, as the Buddha says, suffering takes place. It is only through full awareness of each and every moment of our journey can we have the clarity in our purpose and maximize our chance of succeeding. Just as importantly, it is in the journey, not the destination, that allows you to grow and shape you as the magnificent person the Universe has designed you to be. So the power of now has great power to anchor and sustain you in your purpose.
As we’re faced with so many challenges and opportunities in life, we must make difficult decisions to let go or continue on a path that can have life-altering consequences. So, if you find what drives you in your deep soul, I guarantee that you will never, ever give up!
By Moon Cho, Creator of Ying & Yang Living