What is really meant by purpose? What should we do with these lives we’re given? Why do we come into this earthly existence if not to learn, grow, and realize our full potential as spiritual beings in human form?
These questions weigh a ton. Their heaviness hits most of us in mid-life, except I’m not quite there yet chronologically. I’ve got four years before the big four-oh, but the questions are being raised now. Sometimes they are relentless. I’m learning to hold space for them, as they surface like bubbles in a carbonated drink, because trying to stop them would be futile. We all know what happens when you shake up a soda can and then someone pops the lid. It’s quite messy…and sticky.
I wish I could say that it’s easy to adopt the Buddhist way of simply watching one’s thoughts flow by as leaves traveling on the current of a babbling brook. Maybe it’s easier to do this when clothed in a saffron robe on a mountaintop somewhere in Tibet. In a world where the influx of information is ceaseless; however, solitude is a hard won luxury. If we manage to carve out some peace and quiet for ourselves, a barrage of our own repressed thoughts will likely invade the silence. The questions are coming…but how shall we respond? More to the point, how shall we address the nagging impulse to follow our bliss and still pay the electricity bill for the month?
I have spent most of my career in an organization that shrinks or expands with the demand for the particular commodity that we sell—one that happens to be tied closely with the residential and commercial construction industries. It is a never-ending roller coaster of profits and losses, good years and bad years, and then of course 2009—the worst year in the company’s history. Perhaps the recession put my colossal questions on fast forward, but they would have knocked at my heart’s door anyway. After earning a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, followed by two graduate degrees and eleven years behind a desk, at long last I am considering…what is the meaning of work? What did I prepare myself to do, and am I actually doing it?
Our institutions of higher learning try their best to cram as much data as possible into our brains, and we spit it right back out in the form of test scores. Along the way from kindergarten through college, we must somehow analyze our strengths and weaknesses in hopes that our strengths will be channeled toward a career that keeps us from starving and dying in the streets. Many of us have managed to stay clothed and fed, but our souls are languishing away under a steady diet of florescent lighting and re-circulated air.
I pursued a liberal arts degree at a time when it seemed like everyone was majoring in business. I had no concrete thoughts about what I’d do with my degree—I just knew that I excelled in literature, history, and social sciences. I detested math unless I could see that it had a practical use—like balancing a checkbook or understanding interest rates. I admired the transcendentalists, fell in love with the romanticists, and rebelled with the post-modernists. I felt rich, almost decadent, with the knowledge I was ingesting; but graduation happened, and life came rushing in like bargain hunters on Black Friday.
After a brief flirtation with journalism, I tripped, stumbled, and fell head first into technical writing. This was my “I will not starve” choice…my “buckle down and earn a paycheck like everyone else” choice. It was a way to use my writing talents (in a limited way), pay the bills, and have health insurance. I put on a business suit and felt like I had swallowed a golf ball. Over time, the golf ball got digested, but it has left a bitter aftertaste.
The first thing I observed is that a corporation might say they want people who can think outside the box; yet, they put all of their employees in cubicles. I assume this is done in order to maximize the use of available space, but it certainly minimizes the use of available talent. I learned very quickly that my ideas would be shot down, that I would have no voice, and that continued employment meant doing what I was told and not attempting to change anything too drastically. In other words, management really wants everyone to stay deep inside the box. It’s a great system for people who enjoy working through the same stack of paperwork everyday…and it’s purgatory for anyone with a shred of creativity and a free spirit. In Creating the Work You Love, Rick Jarow addresses the problem in this manner: “The plain fact is that our habitual way of working does not work. But the seeming absolute power of large, impersonal institutions induces a sense of helplessness and passivity. The alternative is to move through complacency and the many subtle forms of consumer-coated despair to re-create the spiritual basis of action.”
At the end of the day, I think we all want to find our true calling—our divinely inspired work here on earth. Some people appear to exit the womb knowing exactly what their purpose is, and others struggle with this question their entire lives. In The Witch’s Coin, Christopher Penczak notes that “it’s a radical idea to be in alignment with your soul, but it’s the only source of true prosperity on all levels.” As a practicing witch and student of metaphysics, I’d have to agree with him. My journey became less about finding a “job” that would employ my technical skills…and more about the need to get back in touch with my inner self.
As I continue to reassess my life path and where it might lead, I wrote a few affirmations to remind myself that my journey is unfolding exactly as it should:
I am in the creative flow of the universe. My divine purpose becomes clearer every day.
The universe supports me in finding my true path. As I trust the creative flow, the right opportunities appear.
Today, I let go of all the dreams of my past—everything I wanted to be, and everything others wanted me to be. My destiny is my own, and I co-create it with love and support from the universal flow of abundance.
I am here in this time, on this earth plane of existence, to realize my highest good for the benefit of all humanity. I am blessed with skills and abilities, and I’m guided each day by the Creator on how I should use my gifts in this life. My divine potential unfolds like a flower in the rays of the morning sun.
And so it is.