Creative work is…a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.
– Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.
– Steven Pressfield in The War of Art
I have a question for you, dear reader. What would it look like if you were living Big and Brave?
Maybe you already are.
Please, do tell.
Please tell me about what your life is like, or would be like, living Big and Brave.
Another post about the challenging times in our lives and how we make it through, one day at a time, and while holding on to a vision of our innate nature. We are already WHOLE!
I’ve written about life purpose on this blog before (here, here and here). As time has passed, I’ve come to believe that our individual life purpose is more about really getting to know ourselves, uncovering our gifts and sharing them with others.
It seems to me that once you truly know yourself, and recognize the divinity within and all around you, the work you are meant to do here automatically emerges (we might say that the real you emerges, the real you whose passion is allowed to flow.)
Time and time again, I’ve read how people start an activity or project for their own benefit or for enjoyment (for example, blogging, running, volunteering at a hospice, gardening, baking etc.) and slowly, organically, it flourishes into something they perhaps never even imagined. Something that allows them to be who they really are in the world and, often resonates with and helps so many others.
I recently read a brilliant blogpost by Kris Carr (of Crazy, Sexy Cancer fame), on this subject, which I am incorporating below. It’s something that I’m sure I’ll re-read from time to time! You can find the original post here.
Finding your purpose
Your purpose has nothing to do with what you do. There, I said it. Your purpose is actually quite simple, it’s to awaken. To discover and nurture who you truly are, to know and love yourself at the deepest level and to guide yourself back home when you lose your way. The more you do this, the more aware and present you become, which creates more harmony in your life. Everything else is your burning passion, your inspired mission, your job, your love-fueled hobby, etc. Those things are powerful and very worthy, but they’re not your purpose. Your purpose is much, much bigger than that.
My deeper understanding of purpose feels right in the soul of my bones. It diffuses the ache of separateness I experience when my work isn’t appreciated or when my efforts are overlooked or criticized. Sometimes folks will treasure your work, sometimes they won’t. Sometimes you’ll get the gig, sometimes you won’t. You’ll be on the marquee and you’ll be passé. You’ll be thanked and you’ll be taken for granted. You’ll give and you’ll get nothing in return. You’ll be “Liked” and you’ll be unfriended. That’s life. But, so then what? You have no purpose or meaning?
Absolutely, positively not. Can you see how tying your worth to that yo-yo circus will only make you feel depleted, depressed and even resentful? Anchor your purpose within, sweet friend. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself drifting out at sea again and again.
What if your purpose is very different than what you’ve been taught to believe?
- What if your purpose is to build an everlasting relationship with yourself? To fall deeply in love with precious you? This isn’t self-centered or selfish, it’s self-expansive. Interconnected. Conscious.
- What if your purpose is to forgive yourself and others? And by doing so, to allow warm waves of compassion to wash over the entire planet (yourself included).
- What if your purpose is to gently heal all self-injury? And by doing so, to become a mentor and role model for others to do the same.
- What if your purpose is to release all shame and feelings of unworthiness? Guess what you’ll find behind those feelings? Vulnerability—where your true strength and courage reside.
- Shall we talk about perfection? Yes, I think we must. What if your purpose is to teach yourself that there is no such thing as perfection and that your never ending pursuit of it is destroying your life and your relationships? Let it go.
- What if your purpose is to speak kindly to yourself so that you elevate your energy and the world around you?
- What if your purpose is to develop an everlasting faith in yourself? To remember your holiness and treat yourself accordingly. The deeper your faith gets, the stronger your connection to a higher power.
- What if your purpose is to take impeccable care of yourself so that you have the energy and joy to serve others?
- What if your purpose is to sit still and listen to the wise voice within? We all have a choice about whether or not to attach to the crazy swirling around in our heads, hearts and universe. Stay open to your inner guidance and chose another way when needed.
And lastly …
What if your purpose (or invitation) is to actually bear witness to your suffering? To honor and acknowledge it in order to move through it. “They” say that “suffering is optional.” But I’m not so sure about that. Plus, I’m not so sure that the people who believe this have truly experienced suffering. I may have agreed with this at one point. But that was before my experience of loss, sickness and cancer. Today, I think suffering is inevitable in some way. The trick is to learn how to move out of it, or at least make peace with it, once we get the nugget and are ready to apply the lessons. Note: Residual pain may remain, and that’s OK, but at some point we can begin to thaw it out in order to embrace our one great, brilliant life.
What if finding your purpose is about finding and nurturing yourself?
Not an external to-do or accomplishment, even if that to-do or accomplishment is the most important discovery of all time. Because if you are the one destined to find the most important ah-ha of all time, you will probably find it quicker and easier if you feel good, loved and happy. Start there. It’s that simple.
Now this doesn’t mean that I don’t love my job (or you) or that I’m going to quit in any way. I cherish my work and all of my readers. And it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t start an orphanage or save animals or empower women or teach people how to file taxes. It means that you no longer need to connect your personal self-worth with a plaque on the wall.
Your self-worth has nothing to do with your craft or calling and everything to do with how you treat yourself and others.
I’ve met brilliant and effective activists who I have gallons of respect for but who are dirty messes inside. Mean messes. Bitter messes. Sad messes. Jaded, cranky-ass messes. And guess what? Their reach and impact reflects their attitude. Imagine what they could accomplish if they moved from loathing to love, if they knew that no matter how important their mission, their inner purpose matters even more. Folks are like plants, we all lean towards the light.
You are the light. Your inner purpose is to connect with that light. Everything else will follow in time
I was 32 when I had my first child, a daughter who is now 17. Shortly after her birth, we learned that she had Down syndrome and a little later, that she had a heart defect. To say that the rug was pulled out from under us is an understatement. This may sound crazy to you, but I never really considered that my baby might have a life-altering condition.
At three months of age, she had surgery to repair her heart defect and I spent the first few years of her life doing all that I could to help her development, including countless therapies and consultations with all kinds of professionals. To the outside observer, I was strong and dedicated. But, if truth be told, I was at sea with only a life preserver. This was a very difficult time for me; a time characterized by inner turmoil and a feeling that I just wasn’t up to the task at hand (I often wondered why God had given this child to me because surely someone else would be doing a much better job as her mother).
Then, twelve years ago we moved to a new city where we didn’t really know anyone. My daughter was five and my second child, a boy, was 1. In my sleep deprived stupor (my son didn’t consistently sleep through the night until he was 2 1/2), I didn’t get (and definitely did not appreciate) that being a mother is one of the most important jobs I have been given in this life, and that a lot of my learning has come from this most important of jobs. Now, that may sound trite to you, but it is steeped in my personal truth.
Those early childhood years were one of the most difficult and personally challenging times of my life (and I still maintain that sleep deprivation is a form of torture). I remember thinking that this couldn’t be what motherhood was supposed to be about, and asking God for help. It was a time where I was in the dark spiritually and not very good at taking care of my own needs.
These days, when I reflect on those years, I feel compassion for myself and also see that I was being “forged in the fire”. Now I see that I had to go through that time, which I sometimes refer to as “the dark ages”, to learn what I needed to, and to get me to where I am today. I am so much more trusting in what is right now, and a much better collaborator with the Universe in creating the life that I want.
I am also a much more compassionate person and I’ve learned to trust my intuition and trust in the power that makes the sun rise, the earth spin and, as Wayne Dyer puts it, the power that makes my fingernails grow.
Here’s another quote from Wayne Dyer from his book, Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling, where he talks about having trust in the Divine Order of things. He advises us to affirm that,
what I desire is on its way [and] it will arrive precisely on God’s timetable, not mine. Everything that I’m experiencing now is disguised as a problem, but I know that it’s a blessing. What I desire is on its way, and it’s coming to me in amounts even greater than I can imagine. This is my vision, and I’ll hold on to it in a state of gratitude, no matter what.
He also says:
it is our job to understand and accept that all of the things that show up in our life, which we often find contradictory or troublesome, are there because we’ve attracted them…and we need to have these obstacles in order to clear an opening for our true Spirit purpose to emerge. This may require a change in thinking patterns,”
such as the affirmation noted above.
Now I know that it’s hard to believe that anyone would want to attract any kind of troublesome, debilitating or heart breaking situation or event into her life. The only thing I can tell you is that despite all the difficulties and heartache during that time in my life, as time went by, I began to have an inkling (or maybe it was determination), that it wasn’t all for naught; that it had a deeper meaning, and that the meaning behind it was for good.
Now, years later, I can see that that has been the case and I am grateful for it. And, in the process, my connection to Spirit was deepened and I gained some tools for navigating turbulent waters (which I assure you didn’t stop then, but really morphed into another lesson, and another, and another…).
So, what is it that I really want to say? I want to tell you that, if you are experiencing turbulent waters right now, to take heart, dig deep and know that at your core is a divinity that radiates pure golden light. Sit quietly, close your eyes and imagine that healing golden light pouring down on you and surrounding you with warmth and love. And, ask for what you need. Ask for what you want to have in your life. Imagine it as already here. Then give thanks and let it go. And, finally, do one thing today that brings you joy.
You have extraordinary treasures within you…and bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small.
Elizabeth Gilbert – Big Magic. Creative Living Beyond Fear
Our calling is to bring light – like Jesus – so that when we step into the worlds of others, we bring His peace to every person and enlighten the dark places of the world.
Sally Clarkson – Own Your Life