Why was I born? Why am I living?
What do I get? What am I giving?
Why do I want a thing, I darent hope for?
What can I hope for? I wish I knew.
Why do I try to draw you near me?
Why do I cry? You never hear me.
I’m a poor fool, but what can I do?
Why was I born to love you?
This haunting tune, written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II in 1929 became popular as it was sung by torch singer, Helen Morgan. She draped herself over a grand piano in a club in Chicago and the song became an instant hit. It was the height of prohibition and speakeasies were the fare of the day. Helen was born in Danville, Illinois in 1900. She never received more than an 8th grade education and grew up in a dysfunctional family. The lyrics of this song mimicked her own life. This time of excess led Helen to become an alcoholic and often she performed while under the influence. She died at the young age of 41 from cirrhosis of the liver.
The words tell a sad story of someone who feels they have no value – no purpose – other than loving someone who doesn’t return those feelings. It sounds hopeless and daunting when you hear her mourning voice capture the mood of the piece. The song was redone over the years by Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Dorothy Lamour and Judy Garland (who also suffered from depression and self degradation.)
When we look at our lives, we could wonder what place we have in this world. Are we successful by the world’s standards? Do we have what it takes to make friends and influence people? Are we driven to be better than others and to achieve greater things along the way? Or are we simply satisfied to settle for less?
If the latter is the case, we need to examine ourselves. Take a good look at what we have to offer the world. Every gift, every talent, every bit of kindness and love which has been planted into us before we were even born, needs to become the focus of our journey. What’s your gift? Find it! Often the things we loved doing as a child of 10-12 leads to our passion in life. Sometimes we have to search hard before it becomes apparent and when we do, it’s time to give it away. That’s the beauty of it. The things we hold within us, can serve others. So why would we cling to those talents and not share them?
Why were you born? Why are you living? You are more than you think you are, because God made you, and God doesn’t make mistakes.