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May 14, 2020

Searching For Purpose and Missing the Point

All my life I have wanted to know my purpose. My favorite inquiry has always been the proverbial question; WHY!?! What is the point? What is the meaning of life? Why am I here? This question has been especially relevant lately as I sit at home, following shelter in place restrictions, examining my life, and wondering what in the world I am doing?

In my years as a student of religion, an examiner of life, a relationship coach, and a practitioner of Emotional Bodywork and Shamanism, I’ve discovered various answers to this question; my life purpose is to love, to break paradigms, to guide others to find their true selves, to resolve conflict, to connect people to one another, etc. No answer ever truly felt satisfying and perhaps no answer ever will. 

There I was, sheltering in place, the hours ticking by, once again stuck questioning my life; like a ship swirling around a whirlpool, trapped both in my mind and in my house. I felt as though I was no longer making any progress in my emotional growth. Afraid to take any action without knowing the repercussions. I just had to know “Why?” Then it occured to me to ask, “Why is it so important for me to know ‘Why’?”

Behind my persistent life questioning is the desire to know and feel my worthiness and significance in the world. I wanted to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was making a difference. And then another realization dawned on me. “How could I possibly comprehend all the ways in which I influence the world?” If a butterfly flapping its wings can cause a tornado then every action I take could cause an infinity of unpredictable and unprecedented results that I could not possibly foresee. Who but God can measure such mind boggling impact? 

My whole premise for the question was wrong. I was asking “what is my purpose?” as if I only had one, as if every single minute action I took could not possibly have drastic unforeseeable effects on the world. By the very nature of existence in an infinite and ever-changing universe, my life purpose must also be infinite and ever-changing. The question was inherently flawed.

What’s more, even if I could conceive of the mysterious workings of the universe, why would the universe deign to reveal my purpose to me? I wanted to know my significance so that I could control it, as if I could somehow form myself into a person of worth, if only I knew the significance of my life. But what possible purpose would there be for a higher power to share such knowledge? Just to grant me the illusion of control and make me feel better about myself?! 

-No- the only really important question is “What to do right now?” I am on a need to know basis only. I don’t need to know why an action is significant for me to take action. I need to know “What?” Just as a valuable emerald necklace fitted to a green eyed beauty grows in value so too can my significance be increased with the right action at the right time. Knowing why actions are significant is incomprehensible, pointless, and preventative of me being myself and doing God’s will. My job is to listen, to follow the signs, and to trust the machinations of a higher power. 

And what about my longing to know “my purpose”? As it turns out, it’s not God’s job to reveal my purpose as proof of my significance just to satisfy my desire for control and validation. Instead, it is my job to trust and know that I am significant. After all, is not all nature perfect and infinitely valuable? Am I not also a part of this perfect and infinitely valuable universe? I am, and so are you. 

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