|Breaking Through - Page 2|
Then one day at work, rushing as usual from desk to photocopier to fax machine to mail room and back again, he was seized with the idea that there was somebody he very much needed to talk to. Careering down a hall, he opened the door to a meeting room full of his colleagues. Not seeing the person he was seeking, he asked in a loud, urgent voice, "Has anyone seen David?" There was a moment of stunned silence, then loud guffaws all around at the joke, because there was only one "David" in the organization, and that happened to be the perplexed character standing in the doorway posing the question.
Whyte recalls that he forced himself to laugh, too, but inside he was dying of humiliation: the question had burst straight from his unconscious and out of his mouth. As he was to write later, "I was looking for a David who had disappeared under a swampy morass of stress and speed. . . . As I stood in the doorway of the meeting room, I felt the energy flow out of me for this work, like an aspiring actor who'd been continually painting, not a character, but a portion of the background scenery. I knew all at once, I couldn't stay backstage anymore."
From that moment, Whyte turned himself to the project of "looking for David." He chucked his job for the much dicier, far less secure vocation of full-time, poet, speaker, and guide for those who, like him, are interested in the quest for soul in a society largely indifferent to such an unprofitable and distracting preoccupation. He explains: "The soul is that part of the human being attempting to belong to the largest story it can. The soul is not interested in success or failure and doesn't care two cents about your career, your successes, or even the latest medical breakthroughs. It only wants to know if it was your failure, your experience, or were you trying to imitate someone else—your mother or father, your teacher. The most terrifying discovery of all is to discover at midlife that you are not living your life, but someone else's life."