Sydney Pollack was an American actor, producer and director who died at 73 in 2008. Some of his well-known movies include ‘The Way We Were’ starring Barbara Streisand, ‘Tootsie’ starring Dustin Hoffman, ‘Out of Africa’, starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep and ‘The Firm’, starring Tom Cruise. Not long before he died in 2008, an article was written about his inability to slow down and enjoy his final years with his loved ones despite the grueling process of filmmaking and his sickness with cancer. He said, “Every time I finish a picture, I feel like I’ve done what I’m supposed to do in the sense that I’ve earned my stay for another year or so”. What he was saying was he couldn’t justify his existence if he stopped!
Is this you? Perhaps not right now but what about further down the track? Remember, becoming as driven as Pollack doesn’t happen overnight.
Just last Saturday, there was an article about the late Kerry Packer, one of Australia’s richest and most powerful man. His tyrannical father thought very little of him, once cruelly describing him as ‘the family idiot’ and calling him a ‘boofhead’. He went from a neglected little child and dyslexic youth to an Australian billionaire media tycoon. He was considered one of Australia’s most powerful media proprietors of the twentieth century. Interestingly, he became like his dad, appallingly rude, foul-mouthed and a bully who never seemed to feel any need to be liked or admired.
During his life, he suffered as many as four heart attacks, one of which left him clinically dead for several minutes while playing polo. He was revived by paramedics and received bypass surgery. Back then, not all ambulances have a defibrillator, but it just so happened that the ambulance that attended to him had one fitted. After recovering, he famously uttered, “I’ve been to the other side, and let me tell you, there’s nothing there”. And in a press conference, he said, “there’s no one waiting there for you, there’s no one to judge you, so you can do what you bloody well like”.
In the article, a journalist and broadcaster Philip Adams said that Kerry had opened up to him, telling him he had a ‘big black hole inside him’. He asked Adams at 3am, ‘What’s a black hole?’. Adams wrote later, ‘And it was perfectly true. I don’t think I’ve ever known a sadder person’.
How do you explain Pollack and Pecker’s experiences? One of the greatest sentences ever written sums it up best. “Because you have made us for yourself, our hearts are restless till they find their rest in Thee” (Augustine’s: 354-430). In the sentence, you have the problem of and the solution for the ‘black hole’ succinctly articulated.
The counterfeit gods of success and achievement will never deliver on its promises! Success only takes you so far it would seem and even then, there is a huge price to pay. That’s because the God who has made us for Himself is the only one who can grant us the deepest desires of our heart. “We are not God’s property so much as God’s lovers. He is not only our origin and our owner, He is also our end, our purpose, our destiny, our identity, our meaning, our peace, our joy, our home” (Justin Taylor).