Life Purpose

Last night, i watched Who Does She Think She Is?, a documentary about women artists who are also mothers and how they struggle to hold onto their art and continue to express it. It’s a fascinating documentary and very inspiring. And also kinda depressing. At least for me it was because these women seemed to be so in touch with their purpose that they could move mountains. And i don’t have a clue what my purpose is.

That got me thinking: There are so many workshops, books, and other self-help things out there for people to find our purpose. Doesn’t it seem odd that we’re all having so much troubling figuring out what we’re meant to do? And if we’re supposed to uncover our purpose, who put it “out there”? It seems to me that uncovering our purpose assumes that there is someone or something that has a grand plan – and i don’t believe in either. To me, there is neither a God nor a mysterious force in the universe. So uncovering a purpose that’s somehow hidden in me does not make sense to me.

And, yet, those women had such a strong urge to express themselves artistically that it was clear that there was some inner force driving them. Do i not have such an inner force? Is this only for a special few? What differentiates these women from me, from most of us? (I am guessing that more of us are in the boat i am in…)

It is clear to me that our culture does not support us to follow our inner force, if there is such a thing. We’re supposed to stay within normative parameters and if we veer off the main road, we’re shunned and shamed. Even within my experiment of living off that road, i see myself returning to it. I still rely on money more than i would like and still have trouble asking for help. Is that because i don’t have an inner force that’s guiding me like a compass? Or is it because i’ve piled up so much cultural trauma that i can’t hear that inner voice? It’s confusing to me. And just when i fall into my usual self-judgment (i can’t figure out my inner force because there’s something wrong with me), i remember a comment on one of those self-helpy posts on Facebook that echoed this. The commentator had been trying to find their purpose everywhere – and just don’t seem to be able to find it! It’s not just me who has trouble with this. There are at least two of us.

This isn’t a new struggle for me. I’ve been trying to find my purpose for years. I was excited when i stumbled onto a different approach: Meaning making. I thought that was the answer! And then i tried and tried to make meaning in a meaningless job – until it finally hit me: This doesn’t work! This isn’t a personal problem, it’s a cultural problem! It’s impossible to make meaning in a culture that sucks the meaning right out of our lives.

What is that meaning, though, that this culture sucks out? To live a meaningful life, we need to be able to contribute to other people’s lives in ways that are fulfilling, that make a difference. And, maybe, we also need to know that we’ll be remembered once we’re dead. Something like that. I don’t know.

So, i am kinda stuck: I sense that somewhere there must be a way of living a meaningful life and i cannot figure out how to pull that off. Somehow i keep ending up realizing “this isn’t it.” Though fascinatingly, this isn’t depressing. It’s intriguing. At least right now. Can i figure this out? Actually, can i live this? Because i doubt that we can intellectually figure out something we can really only experience: Living a meaningful life is essentially about aliveness.

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Life Purpose — 1 Comment

  1. Rachel

    I did a LOT of soul searching about 10 years ago after my cancer & brain injury diagnosis – it stopped me working, even living on my own (I’m living with mum ….. had to move back) it got me infertile ……

    I was wondering about my life purpose since I was stuck at home and had little contact with others.

    I did a lot of research online in the reputable medical journals and – just quickly here – i found

    - the happiest people have a purpose to their live
    - the happiest people were passionate about something – felt very strongly type of passionate.

    I’m passionate about 2 things in my life – I’m a collector of smiley faces but most importantly I’m also a passionate supporter of legalisation of voluntary euthanasia ….. and I decided that I’d be really happy if I made that – my passion about legalilsation of V E – my purpose in life.

    Ever since I made that connection and decision I’ve had no doubts about this type of thing and it has made me much happier and more content in that area. (hard to explain – hope you know)

    You know me online and have my email address – why don’t you email me privately mention this post and other comments and we can discuss it via email ….. you might get some other ideas.

    Know what I mean?

    Give it a try …… you’ve got nothing to lose :-)

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