“. . . each of us has to inhabit his or her own soul
in order to find out who he or she is
and where the intimacy of his or her heart touches the world.
No one else can tell you that; the maps that others have are of no use.
Each life must find its true threshold, that edge
where the individual gift fits the outer hunger
and where the outer gift fits the inner hunger.”
~ Angeles Arrien, The Second Half of Life (via a friend)
The past few months have been very contemplative, and occasionally I feel like I need to find a better purpose in my life. My recent weather sensitivity has confronted me with all kinds of analyses about my sense of self-worth and what I need to do to feel â€˜meâ€™. On the one hand I have all this freedom to determine the course of my life and pursue my aspirations, but a lack of structure and no clear outcome is also a huge confrontation with myself. I am not busy enough right now.
â€œBusyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance,
a hedge against emptiness;
obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or
trivial or meaningless if you are so busy,
completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.â€
~ Tim Kreider
I think of my relatives whose vocation literally involves saving lives, and making art feels trivial in comparison. A horoscope summarized my ambivalence quite well: â€œThere is the desire or the need to serve others in this lifetime. At times this is in direct conflict with a desire to seek seclusion from the world and/or wallow in self-pity seeking sympathy and service from others.â€ (Well, I try not to wallow in self-pity for too long).
Then my friend Lisa of Being Breath blogged about the very feelings I have with regard to my privilege and the injustices in this world:
â€œThis desire to Do Something – we all have it. There is a compassion within us that feels not only our own suffering, but that of all beings across the world. Feeling that compassion amidst all of this not-okayness HURTS. â€¦
We drive ourselves mad, sometimes quite literally, with either trying to avoid it all or trying to fix it all. It seems we are in a constant state of running or sleeping. Do, do, do – collapse, collapse, collapse.â€
And then she gave the boost that I needed:
â€œOkay means not adding to the suffering by creating more of our own.â€
There is a Dutch saying that says that man suffers most from the suffering he fears but that those fears hardly come true. And there is that sense that if I have it so good now, what awaits me to make restitution for it later?
â€œEen mens lijdt dikwijls het meest door het lijden dat hij vreest.
(doch dat nooit op zal dagen.
Zo heeft men meer te dragen, dan God te dragen geeft.)”
~ Nederlands Spreekwoord
Am I not supposed to do something meaningful with this life? And then I run around in circles about what â€˜true meaningâ€™ might be. Maybe it is as simple as the purpose inspirational entrepreneur Megan Hunt of Princess Lasertron and Hello Holiday summarizes:
â€œI want to build something large enough to support me, fit in with my values, and give me the freedom to enjoy and discover the world.
I want success in my career, I want to be in love, and I want to always have a trip to look forward to.
I expect that next, because thatâ€™s all Iâ€™m ever working for.”
The Dalai Lama also focuses on avoiding self-flaggelation:
â€œEveryday, think as you wake up,
today I am fortunate to have woken up,
I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.
I am going to use all my energies to develop myself,
to expand my heart out to others,
to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings,
I am going to have kind thoughts towards others,
I am not going to get angry or think badly about others,
I am going to benefit others as much as I can.â€
~ Dalai Lama
So, I am fortunate to have woken up and to be alive today. I am seeking ways to not waste my moments here, and hopefully positively influence someone or something with my actions, words and creations. Meanwhile, I will keep reviewing the existential crisis busters listed in this article.
â€œThe best day of your life
is the one on which you decide your life is your own.
No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame.
The gift of life is yours; it is an amazing journey;
and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. â€
~ Dan Zadra