A Passionate Seeker
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
A Passionate SeekerIt only took one question.
As a little girl, there was nothing Barbara Marx Hubbard really wanted that she could not have. Her father was Louis Marx, the creator of the biggest toy company in America—and arguably, in the world. Born in Brooklyn, he built his empire, his own life, from the ground up. There was certainly nothing lacking in the Marx household . . . especially not toys.
As might be expected, Barbara went to the best schools, eventually attending Bryn Mawr College outside Philadelphia. She spent her junior year abroad in Paris; and like something straight out of a movie, she fell in love with a disaffected, earnest, handsome, young American artist who happened to join her at a tiny table in a smoke-filled coffee shop tucked away on some side street. She returned with him to the States, had a fairy-tale wedding, and settled down to become the model 1950s wife and mother.
Now don’t get me wrong. There were some difficult moments along the way in Barbara’s life. An early preteen tragedy produced deep anger toward God, and a later teenage perplexity produced deep questioning about life. But for the most part, and as childhoods in the aftermath of the American Depression went, Barbara had a pretty doggone good go of it. The only problem was that the deep anger she had was never expressed, and those deep questions were never answered. . . .
Over the years, Barbara’s father had occasion to meet many interesting people—among them a few military generals including Dwight Eisenhower, who would later, of course, become President of the United States.
By 1952, Louis had remarried and eventually had five new sons. Each had a general as a godfather. And so it came to pass, just after Eisenhower was elected President, that there was a family meeting planned at Gen. Omar Bradley’s home to take a picture of the generals and the President with their godsons.
Not long after that event, Barbara was invited to make a courtesy call on the President in the White House.
At the appointed hour, she and her father were ushered into the Oval Office, located in the southeast corner of the huge mansion on Pennsylvania Avenue. The President was on his feet and put his hand out to Barbara’s father. “Louis, it’s always good to see you,” he said congenially, and he meant it. “Please, sit down.” The three of them moved to the facing couches that stood a few feet from the Chief Executive’s desk.
Dwight Eisenhower and Louis Marx then entered into a discussion about the growing power of the military/industrial complex. “It’s not something to take lightly, Louis,” the President said.
“I know,” Barbara’s father replied. “There’s an awful lot of power there.”
Barbara shifted her weight, drawing Eisenhower’s attention. He picked up on her silent signal that she had something she wished to say. “What can I do for you, young lady?” he asked kindly.
“Mr. President, I have a question for you,” she said.
“And what is that, my dear?”
“You and Father spoke just now about our awesome power.”
Looking into his brilliant blue eyes, she was, for an instant, speechless . . . magnetized. But only for an instant. Then Barbara Marx Hubbard asked President Dwight David Eisenhower: “What is the meaning of our new power that is good?”
The President appeared startled, glanced at Louis, and then looked back to Barbara and shook his head. His voice sounded sad, almost depleted. Then, slowly, he replied: “I do not know. I have no idea. . . .”
The thought occurred to Barbara: Well, then, we had better find out! But she didn’t say that to the President. She simply sat quietly, respectfully, and smiled.
“Your daughter seems to have asked the question of the century,” President Eisenhower ruefully noted to Louis.
It was Barbara’s turn to be startled. She didn’t know what kind of answer to expect from the former war hero and five-star general—who knew all about the exercise of power—but she had hoped for some sort of answer.
This little incident turned out to be not really a “little incident” at all, for it fueled the experience of Barbara Marx Hubbard for the better part of her life thereafter. Although it was true that the drive to find out the purpose of our power and what she was meant to do diminished when she was pregnant, which seemed to be her condition almost constantly over the next few years. Within six years of that White House visit, she was to have four children. By 1960, she would have one more.
Barbara was a devoted mother, remaining at home full-time, and was deeply in love with her husband and every one of the beautiful little beings she and Earl had brought into the world.
Yet a longing for more life, and the lack of an answer to her life’s major question, pressed upon her. Her children would say years later that they knew she loved them, but they felt that she was often not fully “there.”
“They were right,” Barbara told me. “Even though the children were the love of my life, I was such a passionate seeker, that my deepest attention was always elsewhere, searching for the purpose and direction of life.”