This idea of purpose

It’s easy to let the days blend together. Each one washing in and out, each one erasing the last. Life becoming a diffuse sky of endless gray until you turn around and realize how far you are from the shore. How did I get here so fast? How far do I have left?

It’s a theme I keep revisiting, and it’s one I’ll likely keep revisiting for a long time to come. This restless sense of purpose inside of me, begging for a home. A place where it can feel nestled and grounded and held — secure. Currently, it’s too busy searching to feel this way. Too busy making lists of things to do: build a following, care for mental and physical health, become more politically active, write x, read y. Directives for sanity. Directives towards some ambiguous sense of enlightenment. Shoulds that will, in theory, lead to a better version of myself. And amidst the shoulds, there are many days where I shake my head like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum, wondering: why? And: must I? Because sometimes all the doing feels like trudging up a hill, not running towards something with open arms. And this trudging tells me that maybe something is missing. Some sense of purpose, some reason to the chaos. Some animating element that pushes rather than pulls.

And yet, at the same time, I know that perhaps this is a feeling we are all plagued with and will forever be plagued with. Those of us who haven’t found their “calling”, who maybe never will. Who live their lives doing the things that make sense moment to moment, that allow us to sustain ourselves, that give us enjoyment, that hopefully serve the world in some way. Digging in one scoop at a time to reach some unknown treasure and trying to simply find contentment in the digging. And it’s not to say that all days are a blah shade of gray either, that there aren’t as many highs as there are lulls. But when the lulls hit, I can’t help but wonder if there is a deeper significance within them, that maybe they’re not just a passing phase.

So where am I going with this? Do I plan to write myself into a sense of purpose? Do I plan to answer all of the questions and make it out the other side in one essay? Well, yes, in some sense I kind of do. I hope to find clarity through the questions. By asking, I hope to get closer to whatever it is that makes me ask in the first place. Because, the truth is, if someone came up to me tomorrow and whacked me upside the head with my one life purpose, my almighty destiny. If they said, “Here you go, this is what you’re meant for.”, I wouldn’t trust it. I wouldn’t believe it, and I would probably reject it. Because, as cliche as it sounds, I know the answers can only be found through the seeking.

And in the seeking, Rainer Maria Rilke has words that can help:

“Everything is gestation and then bringing forth. To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence, and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity..”

So when the days feel diffuse, hopeless and pointless. I strive to remind myself of why I’m here, why I’m doing what I’m doing, why I keep looking and awaiting. I remind myself with words. A mantra of sorts. I remind myself that I’m here to explore. That I’m here to absorb just as much as I’m here to emit. I’m here to learn. I’m here to forget. I’m here to meet people, and I’m here to spend long stretches of time alone. I’m here to wonder and to get comfortable with the not knowing, with the ambiguity that clouds us all. I’m here to try to extend upwards while I try to root downwards. To learn to ask better questions and to find stillness enough to listen for the answers.

Photo by Silvia Falcomer Photography.

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