Every once in while, I come across a book so staggeringly brilliant, it becomes embedded in the archives of my mind, for eternity. Such was the extraordinary impact of Candace Pert’s, Molecules of Emotion. Pert, an American neuroscientist devoted years of research to an AIDs drug at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). However, when the NIH failed to support the drug through testing and development, she left to join a group of venture capitalists and develop the drug privately, with a pharmaceutical company.
With private investors offering millions to fund development, Pert built a state-of-the-art laboratory and assembled a team of brilliant scientists. However, two years later, the pharmaceutical company suddenly withdrew its support and opted to pursue another drug. Within days, the private investors fell away, the laboratory was shut down and the brilliant scientists lost their jobs. Refusing to give up, Pert continued the fight and spent an exhausting eighteen months, meeting with potential investors and multi-national drug companies, all to no avail. At a nadir, Pert was invited to a medical conference, where she found herself on a panel with Deepak Chopra. Impressed with Chopra’s responses to questions from the audience, Pert asked him why her monumental efforts to develop the drug had failed. His response – “You’re trying too hard!”
Understandably, there’s no concept of trying too hard, in today’s fiercely competitive world. In fact, the hallmark of an ambitious and industrious employee, is to strive to be the best and make whatever sacrifices are necessary, to reach the summit of success. However, this was never a life-choice which appealed to me, even though I often pursued goals relentlessly, believing that sheer force of will could remove obstacles, when all else failed.
Later, with maturity and experience, I discovered that if the time wasn’t right for an event to unfold; no amount of effort would prove effective. The Bible says, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity” (Ecclesiastes 3) and that means there’s a time for action and a time to walk away. Wisdom lies in the ability to differentiate. But, do we ever stop to question whether we’re ready for the outcome we seek, or even whether our energies may be better utilised elsewhere? Faith is about trusting God and accepting there’s a good reason behind an outcome, even when it’s unwelcome. In time, all will be revealed. That’s why I’ve learnt to accept delay or disappointment, even whilst ridden with anguish and bitterness. Faith has provided comfort, consolation and much needed perspective. After all, I trust in a higher intelligence; one that prioritises my best interests and looks far beyond the immediate situation.
As for Pert, the story ended well. She was on the verge of bankruptcy and about to lose her home, when a businessman stepped forward, unsolicited, and supplied the millions needed, to develop the drug. And what had Pert been doing, in the intervening period, as she waited for an investor to arrive? She’d explored her spiritual side and learnt to trust that life would unfold, without her interventions. As indeed, it did.