Where did my purpose go?
Before I take a deeper dive into the adventure of purpose, I thought it would be helpful to look at the backstory. How did I get here? Are there familiar pitfalls? Where are the hidden traps? Are there detours I can avoid?
I think it's interesting that I feel the need to make this caveat before embarking. Why do I feel the need to explain that expressing the desire for more doesn't demean my current life or my current relationships in any way?
Is this a female thing? Feeling guilty for wanting more and ashamed to say it out loud?
This is part of the problem. Pursuing something new feels like letting go. I remember, when I was learning to swim, how I would cling to the edge of the pool and pull myself towards the deep end. I had to move past the point of no return where my toes couldn't touch the bottom. Then I would hang there on the side waiting for the courage to push away from the wall.
This is what it feels like to declare the pursuit of purpose.
Is my purpose lost or am I the one who got lost? I think my purpose was kidnapped by the need to survive. I know I did the best I could at the time. In fact, I think I have excelled at surviving. But, here I am now, longing to reconnect with and refuel my life with meaning and fulfillment.
I've never been lost because I've always been where I am. Maybe distracted or otherwise occupied or too busy or overwhelmed would be more truthful than lost. But, If I think of all of those things like trees in a forest, then, yes. Lost is what I am and have been. Lost in the woods of living my life.
Purpose can get buried beneath the daily grind. This isn't news to anyone. Let's face it, pursuing purpose - opening to purpose and taking action towards personal fulfillment - all of those things require energy and time.
And we all have more than enough demands on our energy and time as it is. To do lists. Schedules. Responsibilities. The maintenance of daily life. I work full time and when I get home at night, I'm tired. I have reluctantly learned that, if there are only 24 hours in a day, I can't demand 17 hours of productivity from myself.
Change and transformation have an impact on the rest of our lives. They demand from us the same kind of energy any relationship or commitment does. And, often, in the case of personal fulfillment and purpose, we are only accountable to ourselves, so any action we need or want to take will fall to the bottom of the priority list. Buried.
I lose track of what isn't in front of my face and I have a fuzzy grasp of time. Years will pass and, but, I started that painting only yesterday. In the ordinary flow of time, it was 'only yesterday' two years ago. I think the paint is dry now.
This is an issue around our house too. I like to leave piles of things scattered around the house. The piles are reminders of things I want and need to do. My husband, however, dislikes piles of unidentified stuff lying all over the house so I've staked my claim to four locations. The art room side of the office. My bedside table where the stacks of books live. The little Japanese writing desk next to my closet (though I have to admit this one is too pretty to pile on). And my grandmother's secretary desk in the living room where all my tarot and oracle cards are tucked away waiting to play.
I have abandoned my purpose many times over. I've started and stopped. I've engaged for multiple years and walked away - more than once.
- Two degrees in theatre and acting - BFA and MFA
- A minor in poetry
- Eight years of training in Psychodrama
- My Actor's Equity card
There may be more, but this is the collection I can recall right now. I'm looking at what these things have in common: a focus on art and performance, love of language and story, the desire to entertain and move others, and a need to understand what makes us - as humans - tick.
Along the way, I've changed and learned and connected with a wonderful creative community. Yet, I've been afraid to commit, once again, to a calling and a purpose - one that lights me up from within and makes me feel like I'm doing what I'm meant to do. I'm using all of myself. I'm showing up with my whole self.These epiphanies and glimpses of purpose without action are only fleeting ideas or insights - temporary enthusiasms. I love a good insight or 'Aha!', but unless I engage with it in some way - what is it? Nothing more than a nice idea.
But, this story begins: "Once again upon a time..."
The Realm of Comfort Zones
I think what we call comfort zones may, in truth, not be comfortable at all. But they are familiar. At their worst, they're 'Numb Zones'. Maybe we don't even notice comfort zones until they become too small for us in some way. They get a little tight around the neck and start to rub us in the wrong way, so we take a peek outside and see how dark it is. We see our inner critics and demons prowling around the edges of our familiarity. So we decide the too-small space that we know so well is just fine after all. It's cozy. And I know who I am in this place. So the monsters get bigger. They become legend. And we stay in the roles cast for us by the circumstances of life.
And so the journey begins. Here's a little prayer for starting out based on a Loving Kindness Meditation:
May I be kind. May I be curious. May I delight in the exploration of my purpose. May I trust that I am safe to venture forward. May I feel supported by my family & community. May I be a light to others on the path. May I find joy and know peace.
May you be kind. May you be curious. May you delight in the exploration of your purpose. May you trust that you are safe to venture forward. May you feel supported by your family & community. May you be a light to others on the path. May you find joy and know peace.