A recent essay, Losing purpose, described finding myself without purpose: a widower and empty nester in the same year, a vocational crossroad due to a career that has run its course, and a lack of connection to any particular place have all left me feeling lost and without direction. I am still in that same place as I face huge decisions.
Benjamin Jenks recently published several pieces about finding purpose at Adventure Sauce. The takeaway of one post was that one’s purpose is internal rather than external, and that no one can identify your purpose for you. Good point. I have made that mistake too many times, and always end up frustrated.
Benjamin also made the following reflections about his own pursuit of purpose and a meaningful life:
Because I was hurting.
I felt so angry. So hollow. So Un-Me.
I went on a wild adventure to find my purpose.
It wasn’t always pretty.
It wasn’t always good.
It wasn’t always healthy.
But it was the Real Me.
This is powerful stuff. I keep feeling like I need to ignore all the good advice (it’s not working) and follow my heart through this wasteland in which I am trapped, because I too am hurting, angry, hollow and Un-Me; to go on a wild adventure that lasts until I find my purpose; it certainly won’t always be pretty, it won’t always be good, and it won’t always be healthy, but it will be the Real Me.
“Your ego wants you to believe that all challenge and difficulty has meaning, that all sources of stress have value and purpose. Your heart intuitively knows that this isn’t true. It knows that without spending your time doing things that actually have meaning and purpose behind them, you have no reason for existing.”
“If you follow your heart, if you give it your trust and let it guide you, it will lead you to your purpose for existing. Life won’t be easy. You won’t get through unscathed. You’ll fall down and face challenges that seem insurmountable, but every single challenge you do face, every fall and every scratch, will be worth it. It will be meaningful.”
Purpose is difficult enough to discover, but too often we avoid the very situations that might allow us to grow and discover purpose because of misguided efforts to instead be comfortable. Ironically, sometimes the only path to healing is through more pain. It is only by going deeper down the rabbit hole, precisely because I am hurting, angry and hollow, by willingly and even intentionally going through times that will not be pretty, good or healthy, that I might have a chance of eventually coming out whole. Not better, but different. The real me, with a clearly understood and embraced purpose.
I can only hope if I start down the trail which I can only dimly see that I will also eventually emerge from the other side of this wilderness, scarred yet healed, broken yet whole, crushed yet strong; not better, but different and with purpose.
Posted from Cambridge, New York, United States.