jusummerhayes

Finding our purpose

Photo by Alexander Ant on Unsplash
Photo by Alexander Ant on Unsplash

purpose (n.)

c. 1300, "intention, aim, goal," from Anglo-French purpos, Old French porpos "aim, intention" (12c.), from porposer "to put forth," from por- "forth" (from Latin pro- "forth;" see pur-) + Old French poser "to put, place" (see pose (v.1)). On purpose "by design" is attested from 1580s; earlier of purpose (early 15c.).

Good morning.

It looks like it's going to be another beautiful day — no rain. 

I've got a busy week coming up; I'm still working on my behemoth German contract — all 80,000 words. I'm about half-way done in sorting the commercial and legal issues; but, hey, I know I'm lucky. Very lucky. So many people I know are still furloughed and are concerned that when they return to work or the scheme ends, they'll have no job.

At some point today, I need to take my youngest daughter to her friend's house and that will be my opportunity to find a new place to walk or I might even go down to Slapton Sands for a swim. Again, I realise how lucky I am to have Dartmoor and the amazing Devon coast on my doorstep. I take none of it for granted. 

Anyhow, what of my self-invented 😉 title? 

Well, it used to be all the rage, didn't it?

Of course, it was meant to be (I think?) a personal thing, that was until the personal development industry arrived unbidden with all the answers.

And then came coaching, education and mentoring (not necessarily in that order) who offered and sometimes guaranteed life-long, soul-embracing, personal change? 

Sorry, to those caught in the penumbra of those labels, but surely it was us who were meant to do all the heavy lifting, making lots of wrong and gut-wrenching turns to eventually find our purpose and not delegate that responsibility elsewhere? 

I jest of course. In fact, I could have made up the previous paragraph but at what stage did we stop believing in our innate brilliance — however that showed up — and abdicate it, at least so far as the 'process' is concerned, elsewhere?

Let me rephrase that. There have always existed wise people who can give us the benefit of their 20/20 vision — and that's a good thing — but, ipso facto, they're not you. And that means, whatever they think might be the apogee of your life, they've no way of knowing whether the thing you're embarking on or wish to do, is the one thing you were called to do, do they? (Too many dos...!)

I need to back up. 

What is purpose?
Is there even such a thing?
Do we will it or are we willed by it?
Absent work — the industrial-complex variety — where does that leave the search?
Do we even need a purpose?

But, hey, to my mind, none of these questions (and many more) come before the one question we ought to ask or be encouraged to enquire after; namely:

Who am I?

Don't worry, I'm not going all existential on you again, even less pronounce on the spiritual shtick that I keep calling in aid. 

No, I think we all know that to answer any question that goes to the root of our being — purpose or otherwise — surely (and not because I say so!) we need to enquire after our personage (i.e. who we are beyond a series of cultural labels). 

But then again, does any of this really matter, particularly given the world that now exists and is likely to be on offer in the next 100 years? 

To be honest with you, I wish the whole purpose thing didn't exist because it requires us to live our lives forward rather than now — the only moment we'll ever have. Please don't misunderstand me dear readers: I'm not against a bit of forward planning but as I'll keep saying, we don't will any of this. If we feel like planning for a miracle, then great. Equally, if we feel like taking it one day at a time to see what, if anything, shows up, then that's equally fine. And of course, it's only my opinion; you can dismiss it in a heartbeat. And please do!

What am I really getting at?

To question everything. To stay open to whatever arises. And not to feel you've got to do anything more than what you're drawn to. 

In short, our purpose, should we need one, is not to fight ourselves — that damn inner monologue where you feel like you've got 10,000 things on the go and need a simple answer, not a whole series of choices. I'm not saying I've got the answer or any answer to what it means to live a purpose-driven life, but one thing I do know, speaking personally, is that the moment the pretence fell away that I had to make something of my life — I died before I died (March 2010) — was the day I saw how hard I'd made it for myself, never being happy with what I had and always on the lookout for something better. That then left me exposed to pursue almost anything that felt right — even if I had no way of knowing if it would ever amount to a job, a business or something to hold my attention beyond the present moment. In the process I learnt more about myself than a lifetime of thrashing and being a third-rate epigone of those people I believed could direct my life. At the time, I might have been deluded — I'm sure I was — and that's why, these days, all I'll ever to say to anyone who wants to listen is to understand that true self (my strapline if you like) doesn't need a purpose to be. It's everything you are — all body, mind and soul. That's not what most people want to hear. They want an answer, whereas I'll routinely say, you need to live in the question you're trying to answer and don't even think you're going to answer it much less understand it until...well, it could be for the rest of your life.

Who am I?

What's my purpose?

Why am I here?

They could keep you busy for a very long time.

Always remember though, you are not your thoughts any more than you can claim ownership of the rest of your body. What do I mean? Think about it. When you say, "I want to be" who or what is the "I" that's directing the show? I hope it's not that pesky homunculus 🤣. Seriously, the self-enquiry (in my opinion) has to go beyond living up to a label that you think is you.

I think that's it for today. Pretty heavy stuff, hey!

Anyhow, thanks for reading as always.

Blessings, Ju.

🙏


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