I have begun to wonder if the secret of living well is not in having all the answers but in pursuing unanswerable questions in good company. Rachel Naomi Remen, My Grandfather’s Blessings (from Karl Duffy’s mindfulbalance blog)
I woke up this morning feeling blank. Without an agenda, without to do lists, and without a real sense of purpose. I know that my friends and kids all got up, dressed and made ready to face their agendas, obligations and lists. All around me humanity seems so busy, knowing what they have to do in the course of a day. Only I seem so directionless, and it is strange and disconcerting to live this way. Old programming thoughts crop up: ‘you really should figure out what to do with yourself, you are acting like a deadbeat, maybe you ought to get a clue,‘ etc. but when I attempt to ask myself what it is I even want to ‘do’, I come up blank. It’s a weird feeling, this Wandering Jew aspect of life.
I feel I could be anyone, go anywhere, slip in and out of life’s corners and cracks unobtrusively, just observing and watching all the others playing out their life dramas like a spectator. Shall I judge this feeling, call it bad or unhealthy, try to fix or change it, strive to find some kind of purpose or grounding so that I can appear normal and acceptable to society again (whatever that means)? I remember years ago, my friends and I used to speak about ‘social outcasts.’ I guess we were alluding to the fact that we felt ourselves to be somewhat in that category of society. Now I am again feeling a peculiar kind of self-imposed exile from the hive or group.
Is it all right to admit, in the middle of your life, that you really haven’t got a clue what you are doing? Obviously I am not the only one. And yet. Aren’t we supposed to be …. what, exactly? Cool, hip, together, successful, rich, beautiful forever, sexy, amazing, fabulous, wonderful, positive, happy, fulfilled, amusing, sweet and basically perfect? And when we are not these things, then what are we?
Human, all too human, wrote Nietzsche. I am a human, struggling. I don’t have it together, whatever ‘it’ even is. I don’t have some great, wonderful dream I am working towards. I am not a star in any way. I am simply a person, watching all the other people, hearing their stories, and feeling it with them. Laughing, crying, nodding my head. Sometimes holding their hand, sometimes wanting someone to hold mine.
My friend and I took a walk in nature this afternoon. She talked about how most humans have a need to feel they belong somehow, to something larger than themselves. I listened quietly, and then I asked her if she also felt that way, that she needed to belong. She told me that somewhere in her twenties she had a profound experience of knowing she belonged to God, and that her purpose in this lifetime was to be close to God’s presence and do His/Her work in the world. And she has been doing it ever since.
I think my friend is very lucky to have such a sure sense of why she is here and what she is supposed to do. It simplifies life in a hundred ways if you no longer have to ask, ‘why am I here?’ For those of us who have deep questions as to our purpose, life is more difficult. When faced with the same question I asked my friend, my short answer would be, ‘more than to feel I belong, I have the need and desire to feel I understand.’ Some days I approach understanding, though very rarely is it in a way which satisfies these persistent, annoying questions. The questions persist, no matter what I do. But I also persist in my pursuit of being open-hearted, allowing myself to bleed, to fully feel all of it. Suffering abounds on this planet, there is simply no denying this fact. Part of my purpose in life is to be empathic to others, to be a witness to their stories. Not with idiot compassion, but with real strength and understanding to the degree that I can. I am learning that I can bless other people by my own true presence. We have the ability to bless or curse each other all the time, but are often quite unaware of what we are doing. So maybe finding one’s purpose is a gradual and on-going process, which develops and becomes stronger the more we recognize our own inherent worth, without egoism. This is the direction I am now heading. I think it is a path with heart.
As always, Dear Readers, I love to read your thoughts. Please leave a comment if you have any regarding this idea of purpose (or the lack thereof) and opening your heart. Thanks for reading tonight’s ramblings.
Related articles *there are a lot of them, folks, this is a hot topic*
- Life with a purpose (floridawasp.wordpress.com)
- Ornamental or Functional: what’s your purpose in life? (believerwithoutagod.wordpress.com)
- The Common Man (writsarpitagrawal.wordpress.com)
- Defining The Purpose of Life: Vague as Ever (socyberty.com)
- Do you know the purpose of life? (stocktonbiblechapel.wordpress.com)
- The Purpose of Life (evatenter.wordpress.com)