Living out my purpose
I could have chosen any path in which to live out my life.
Instead, I’ve chopped it into a thousand pieces.
It’s been exhausting.
Sadly, beneath the haste to reach the promised land — which has never materialised — remains a deep sense of dissatisfaction. It’s more than that. I still feel (and I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse) a strong desire to understand and live out my purpose.
If that sounds pretentious, I make no apology. It’s my life!
I can fool myself as much I like but the truth is, despite the multiplicity of things I’ve done, I’ve still not found the one thing that absorbs all my attention to the point where I’m committed to it, whatever the circumstances.
In the beginning, I assumed my purpose would be found in starting a business — why else do it? It might have been but it was eventually blown apart when my co-director lost his nerve and, without my say, pulled the plug. In fairness to him, I’m sure he made the right call, if only because, if it had been left to die, it would have bankrupted us both. Sadly, with its premature demise, I never got to a stage where I might have asked myself if this business, or indeed any business, would ever allow me to discover and live out my purpose.
You might question the need, as narcissistic as it is, to constantly seek a (or any) purpose. I suppose that begs the question: do we find our purpose or does our purpose find us?
I’d like to think we can fashion something purposeful but something tells me that’s crazy. It’s to suggest that, much like divining rods, we can find our purpose through some spiritual absorption and then live it on our terms.
Perhaps it works a different way; namely, our daemon reaches out and guides us towards our purpose. Our job is not to argue with the inevitable but to fall into the deep resonance with our soul’s desire.
Is this how artists operate? I don’t know, but it certainly seems that their modus operandi is to put their shoulder to the spiritual wheel and the rest follows.
This is all so artificial.
Life is life, right, and draping it with the pall of purpose seems solipsistic in the extreme.
Seriously though, having lived this long, I honestly thought, by now, I’d have the purpose thing worked out. Sure, I’m still working for someone else — that’s pretty common, right! — but it’s not all-consuming and leaves me enough time to blog, write, craft a few poems and self-enquire to my heart’s content.
Then again, why bother? I could just as easily read a good book, spend time in the garden or deepen my place in the community.
But I don’t feel it.
I’m not drawn to these.
Writing, on the other hand, feels as close to the real me as anything I’ve ever done.
What am I moaning about then? Is writing not my purpose?
Not this type of writing — sorry.
I want to go all the way.
You heard me. I don’t want to pander to Resistance which means being talked out of writing my best work. That means avoiding the temptation to blog so frequently, indulging in needless conversation on social media and not doing the one thing that I should be doing.
What is the point of spending all my time writing if I don’t know that it will fulfill my purpose?
It’s a good question and the truth is I can’t possibly know if writing is my purpose. I’ll only know if I write and then ship my books.
I know, previously, I’ve made similar announcements only to come up short and I can’t say that this time will be any different but having spent a few days away from work to think carefully about what I really want to do, this is the best ‘story’ I’ve been able to conceive to answer the distinct-lack-of-purpose question.
You should also know that going on in the background of my need to create is my deep dive into the age of the Anthropocene. This is based on the evidence that says it is humankind that has caused the mass extinction of plant and animal species, polluted the oceans and altered the atmosphere. On one level my interest arises out of being more informed about the changes that are visible to us all but there’s something else in play.
When working with my coach in 2012, she used the Very Clear Ideas process developed by Charles Davies (see https://www.howtobeclear.com/what). This helped me narrow down what exactly I was trying to do with my nascent consulting business. Many times I was put on the spot and I distinctly remember feeling embarrassed that I couldn’t tell her exactly what I was trying to do let alone how I would articulate that to the market.
I eventually came up with the strapline ‘Awaken, the Genius Within’. At the time, I saw that in the same arena as enabling my putative clients to live out their full potential. But as I went deeper into my work and reflected on my core message, I understood that true self was the apogee of our lives and not some manufactured, out-of-touch ‘Best of You’ persona. From there I considered the spiritual dynamic and came to the not very profound realisation that if we woke from our narcissistic torpor, and realised true self that we couldn’t possibly do harm to ourselves let alone the living earth.
This needs a bit more explanation:
“The term “perennial philosophy” . . . refers to a fourfold realization: (1) there is only one Reality (call it, among other names, God, Mother, Tao, Allah, Dharmakaya, Brahman, or Great Spirit) that is the source and substance of all creation; (2) that while each of us is a manifestation of this Reality, most of us identify with something much smaller, that is, our culturally conditioned individual ego; (3) that this identification with the smaller self gives rise to needless anxiety, unnecessary suffering, and cross-cultural competition and violence; and (4) that peace, compassion, and justice naturally replace anxiety, needless suffering, competition, and violence when we realize our true nature as a manifestation of this singular Reality. The great sages and mystics of every civilization throughout human history have taught these truths in the language of their time and culture.” — Rami Shapiro
So what I realised, almost by accident, was that if I could highlight the dichotomy between true and false self and my putative clients were willing to look within and understand their drivers to live in an age of separation, I might through the process of self-enquiry bring about greater happiness in their lives but more importantly a need to take urgent action to address the calamitous environmental crises.
At this stage, you might think I’ve lost the plot. On one level I can see how that might be the case, but having spoken to innumerable groups on the subject and coached one-on-one, I can tell you that most people understand there’s something beyond the ken of their current understanding, particularly when they don’t identify with their thoughts, and absent a deep dive on the nature of true self, they’re never likely to change their circumstances, no matter how much energy and devotion they bring to the project at hand.
So, my purpose now, as best I can articulate it is to write with a single-mindedness that hitherto has been lacking and to develop my true self theme. You should know that I’m about 50% complete with a memoir and I will finish that over the course of the next few months. I also intend to write a book to elucidate the thesis of my true self message beyond a distillation of those people I’ve studied over the last nine years. In the past, I’ve too easily quoted others without expressing my own view. I’d like to think this book can be finished in 2019 and I’m minded to self publish it on Kindle, Smashwords or Lulu.
As to my online writing and social media, and having given this a lot of thought, this is the regime that I now intend to adopt:
- I will continue to write a weekly blog post which I will publish on a Monday;
- I will continue to record a weekly monologue and upload that to Mixcloud and my blog;
- I will, as often as I need to, write and record to Patreon. To be honest, I’m not sure where I expected to be with the platform but if I can’t increase the number of Patrons by the end of July 2019 then I will wind up my page;
- After this week — Friday will be the last day — I will no longer write to Ko-fi;
- I will no longer write anything on LinkedIn — it’s a platform that I feel ill at ease in even opening not least because it’s become a self-promotion engine and not much else;
- I will only show up on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram once I’ve written my allotted word count;
- Unless I’m invited to speak, I will no longer seek paid or unpaid speaking engagements; and
- I will continue to offer coaching to clients but I will continue to keep the numbers to a manageable level.
I’m sure I can be even more focused but my touchstone will be: have I beaten Resistance (see The War of Art by Steven Pressfield) today?
Let the work begin.