I obsessed about this idea of purpose for years, writing endlessly in my journals more questions than answers: Why am I here? What should I be doing with my life? Is there some grand plan that I need to figure out? Am I a total slacker if I’m not saving rainforests or fixing the world’s ills or leading a revolution?
The question of purpose is often linked to the question of career and vocation. It’s a question that starts with what. “What should I be doing that is in line with my purpose?” Or maybe it’s a why that turns into a what: “Why am I here so that I know what to do?”
We desperately want to know what to do. We want answers. Certainty. The ability to make decisions and plans and not wake up in 10 years realizing that the boat sailed long ago on what we were “supposed” to be doing, and now it’s all too late. Cue the sad music…
I’d bought into this idea of purpose so completely that even six months ago my goal was to help my coaching clients find their purpose. But this coronavirus shutdown gifted me with a stillness in which I could strip away many assumptions that I took for granted.
Recently my pen scribbled the words “love more” in my journal. As in, that’s the answer to the meaning of life. That’s our purpose… why we’re here. The small-ego part of me rebelled a bit: No way! I don’t want that to be the answer. It’s too simple, too trite, too feel-goody hearts and flowers… too Instagram. Not only that, it’s not SPECIAL. It’s not a unique purpose just for me, that only I can fill. It’s for everyone! Hogwash.
“Did Morpheus tell you why you’re here? You’re supposed to save the world. Jesus… what a mind job. What do you say to something like that?”Cypher to Neo, the Matrix
Yes, it’s all one big mind job… this expectation that lurks in the back of our minds that whispers like a little devil, “you should be doing more. Something better.” That whisper that suggests that my life isn’t quite meaningful enough. That there’s something out there that I haven’t found yet that will make it all worthwhile. And when I find it, life will magically transform into a garden of awesomeness. And I’ll feel special.
The Jen who operated from a self-inflicted love deficiency, who looked for love out there as something elusive or conditional… she would have no idea what to do with this. She would have thought love was saved for a handful of special people… something to do — a verb, to give or receive — not to be: a container filled with light.
Love is not a verb; it’s a state of being.
When love is a verb, we are deciding who is worthy of it…. including ourselves. It’s something to withhold or dole out in reward for specialness.
Here’s what I’ve observed as I shift out of my head, lay down my useless heart armor, and move through the world in an open and unguarded way: I am being love. I experience what “everything is connected” means. I feel closer to everyone. Happier. Undivided, yet surprisingly safer. We’re all simply waves on the ocean; individual and made of the same stuff.
Our purpose as human beings is to reconnect with our source — with the truth of who we really are — over and over again. When we focus on being, then decisions on what to do become really simple.
I see now that the only way to change the world — heck, change a company culture, or a family dynamic — is one heart at a time. To lower our defenses and assumptions and fears… to let go of the mind and drop into our bodies… to choose to feel the expansiveness of love, which then shifts any dynamic completely. Find the common ground, not with our minds but in our shared essence as human beings.
I am partly relieved, because this sure seems easier than the grand task of saving the world; it’s a small yet meaningful choice that I can make at any time. And yet the other part of me recognizes that this is not so small, nor is it easy. This perhaps is the work of our lives, and the potential impact is staggering. It will take months, years… heck, decades of practice, dropping into this choice, slipping up, and choosing again without self-flagellation.
If all I do is this, for the rest of my life, I will feel complete.
Stay tuned for part 2: how to translate this fuzzy idea into something personal and original in your own life.
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