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.