Beyond purpose …

“It is as if a king had sent you to a country to carry out one special, specific task.  You go to the country and you perform a hundred other tasks, but if you have not performed the task you were sent for, it is as if you have done nothing at all.  So people have come into the world for particular tasks, and that is our purpose.  If we don’t perform it, we will have done nothing. “      -Rumi

 

An interesting thought isn’t it?  It caught me this morning … caused me pause as I enter another day defined by COVID.  A thought arose … “What if all this loss of what once was thought as my purpose, life actions giving me great joy, is the Universe telling me I’ve missed the mark?”  That where I thought I had found that which resonates deep within me is not what I am intended to do.  That I need more work to understand that the joy I felt in “doing” really needs to be felt when sitting doing nothing … it must exist and be felt when nothing occurs … it must be felt from within quiet cells, cells not stimulated through conscious acts.

A close friend’s comments sparked the idea.  Readings of those focused on personal growth have long suggested finding our “purpose” is the end game, the place we all want to head.  They packaged it as “uniquely ours”, tailored to exactly what WE needed to feel our greatest joy.

I smugly thought I had discovered a life that resonated within me … brought me deep, rich feelings of connection and “sense of purpose” on several levels.  Then I suddenly experienced the pain of losing it all to a virus consuming the world.  All that once fed my soul, was gone.  And the sense of loss coupled with the emptiness of confusion enveloped me like standing in a dark room on a moonless night.  It was an act that crippled me emotionally, stripping away beliefs in discovering one’s purpose because once found, it seemed so easy to have it stripped away.  It clearly demonstrated that the model I thought reflected successful attainment of that which we seek in an aware life was fragile and easily broken.  How can something felt to be so true, so reflective of alignment between my soul and my journey during this lifetime, be broken and lost so quickly and easily?

In the swirl, confusion, and emotional pain I now move through I sense that finding one’s purpose is fine, but it is insufficient to living a rich, meaningful life of full connection with one’s soul.  It is not the “end game” but a rest stop along the path into forever.  It “seems” something more must be attained.  Something more permanent that transcends easy loss at the hands of external events.  Something deeper … more profound … more integrated within me.    Something that once found, once connected, exists and sustains regardless of events native to this particular planet.  Something truly apart yet richly connected to my deepest self, my soul.  Once found, something beyond loss.  Something that is felt even when stripped naked before the sun as health and physical existence fall away.

So new thoughts are driving a new quest.  Time and life may alter and change my steps, but I feel that a new path awaits me, one where something beyond purpose exists.  The “how” has not revealed itself but then a journey never is known until taken.  New thoughts … new directions on my compass … new steps in an unknown direction … a walk seeking greater understanding of how my physical and soulful presence might connect with the Universe through some relationship that once found, never can be lost.  Yes, it may be as simple as always returning and spending more time in the “present moment” but I am unsure, and I feel like there is something more profound serving as the key of entry.

Thoughts … reflections … reaction to emotional pain … and more all swirl as I form new thoughts on my relationship with the Universe.

A gift? … certainly!

A quest? … without doubt.

A journey? … likely so.

And what actions I will choose remains a mystery as I examine the choices laid before me on the buffet table of life.  I am indeed entering an interesting place in time and space.  Where will it lead … ???

Crossing into the great potential ….

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride! “ — Hunter S. Thompson

 

The year 2019 recently ended.  The steps I’ve taken on my journey through the year have done the usual … forged change and challenged self-awareness.  Not all has gone smoothly.  Lingering spots needing greater understanding will join me as I cross the boundary into 2020 but overall, I sense more inner peace, feel stronger and more “alive”, and carry with me more joy.

Each day I try to “reset” fears of aging into a genuine embracing of the “adventure of aging gracefully”.  As the Buddhist say, our bodies simply age … it is what our bodies do … but it is how we see and move through it that offers opportunities for joy and growth.  I now joyfully accept each new phase of my life as it is presented … sometimes less successfully than others … but accept them in a spirit of friendship.  I remind myself that life is lived in the moment, and that living life in the future under the shell of fear brings a joyless and uncomfortable life.

And as this 2020 arrives its dawn illuminates a new and quite powerful path I will walk.  My 2019 has prepared me for a new experience that “feels” like a life changer, a life changer I feel called to and seek insight and awareness from.  “Hospice” is this new path’s name and my training in 2019 now prepares me to venture out to help ease the journey being taken by those facing near term death.

This new path lacks clarity because each person’s journey is unique.  It’s this diversity that offers the richness of experience.  Each path I’m granted the honor to travel is significant with each offering the potential to ease another’s journey while sailing in an ocean of emotional richness, connection, and introspection.  Already the feelings from the rich, loving, and emotional training are already intense so I fully anticipate that the experience itself will be even more so.  For me, it will stamp 2020 in bold, loud letters and expand my personal emotional horizons enormously.  Even more, my hope is that whatever I do eases in some way the final journey of another.

So, this year arrives, and I prepare.  Prepare for whatever unfolds.  Prepare for answering a calling.  Prepare for this new, emotional endeavor having an enormous chance to expand my understanding of death and the voyage we each … I … will eventually take.  Service to others while given the gift of insight … yes, a life changer indeed!  And this gift of “opportunity” makes me ever so grateful …

Aging as change not loss …

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”Betty Frieda

 

As I travel my wonderful one-way life journey, I see, hear, feel, and learn.  My journey now takes me through a special path of life, walking the “valley of aging”.  And though I sense many side trips await, its focus seems to be to understand a larger process which many times confuses, frightens, and overwhelms.

Many view aging as an unwanted, greatly feared diminishment.  I certainly began my trek down this path flying that banner.  But time, reflection, and shifting my perspective has brought me to a new place from which to continue each new step along the way.

I no longer see this inevitable journey as one of loss. Though my work continues, an “ah-ha” moment allowed a flip in perspective to occur while this journey continues presenting fresh moments of insight around each corner along the way.  I am now walking a uniquely personal path of change, offering moments reminding me that learning and adapting my personal philosophy and perspective will not end until my physical form transcends into whatever awaits us all.

And though the perspective shift (change vs. loss) is small, it is powerful because it drives the inner feelings created by the thought of growing older.  Embracing “change”, part of a larger natural process, brings peace and a  sense of natural acceptance to circumstances faced daily.  And with such peace and acceptance comes inner calm … calm allowing each day’s moments to be lived in gratitude and greater joy.

Changing into a new me … anticipating with enthusiasm each perceptible alteration.  Applauding the results because it reveals the new me emerging from within.  Embracing and celebrating the change … and walking alongside it as friend not victim.  It is a fresh way … a more joyful cadence of walking the steppingstones of aging.  I hear the clock ticking … and it is a joyful melody …

The wisdom of a tree …

“Returning home is the most difficult part of long-distance hiking; You have grown outside the puzzle and your piece no longer fits.” ―  Cindy Ross

 

I hike.  It unquestionably stands as one of my most “passionate, passions”.  To walk upon the earth, move under my own power, and feel my body carry its weight epitomizes personal empowerment and freedom.  It also is an enabler … a means of moving my mental reflections and its offerings to another level where an actual physical connection occurs.  And when out in nature underway in the moment, I feel no greater joy … no greater peace other than those rare and wonderful moments of intimate connection with another deeply loved human being.

Yes, this simple activity transcends all counter-balancing, negative forces swirling in my world.  It lifts and transports me to some fantasy kingdom where inner peace prevails, and all is in harmonic balance.  It offers me respite from the noise, the noise building up as society and its discord move through the streets of my life.  And on so many levels, the “hike” serves as my temporary savior, and creates a metaphor for living each day … providing me a model which helps me create the feelings I “feel” from the physical me aligning with the spiritual me even when unable to engage in this magical activity … in the “hike”.

And as I hike, I see.  I’m afforded ever-changing windows through which deeper scenes are viewed and deeper insights acquired.  I was granted one such moment on a recent journey … a journey journaled because of the lesson learned.  A moment of insight delivered as I moved through the magical temple of nature.  A deeper awareness revealed to me as a rich metaphor for my life, a life clearly moving through transitions defined by time and the physical changes within me that accompany it. Though often surrounded by forest and trees, I suddenly saw and felt the community of trees around me … the community granting me entry to their space and time.  And with that sense of fresh entry I felt a new understanding emerge.

I saw the “wisdom of a tree”.  I saw how gradually and gracefully a tree matures and shows its years.  How proudly it carries its broken branches, snarly bark, roots that spread … none seen as a diminishment but rather signs of character and wisdom.  I saw the scars of fires that threatened life itself yet were overcome and now simply provide visual contrast that more clearly demonstrate the inner strength to live on. I saw how this citizen of nature proudly displays its true multi-dimensional character as evidence of a life well lived.  A life lived fully and unbounded by artificial constraints or limitations and without expectations.  I saw clearly that before me stands an elder of its tribe carrying the story of its unique journey granted it up to that moment.  And I sensed that not only did it carry the story of its journey, but that in that moment it was fully satisfied … at peace with all that had passed … not having desires or needs for any future.  It was fulfilled … at peace …and simply moving from one moment to the next ready to experience whatever awaits.

That day … during that hike I saw things in a new way.  My heart was opened, and I stood in sacred space where I find my greatest peace.  And I saw … and I thought … Why is it so hard to see the aging of a man in the same fashion?  Why does the “human community” create more of a sense of diminishment rather than graceful evolution towards grandeur.  So, this day offered me a fresh way to see … gave me new windows through which to see myself and my journey.  And I knew there was a valuable lesson here … one that enriches me and softens the footsteps of my remaining journey.

So now I travel in enriched awareness, changed by a moment of insight gifted me by a special community.  A community I visit frequently, either physically or virtually.  A community which offers me rich, powerful, and insightful opportunities to live an increasingly joyful life.  I am such a lucky man to be friends with this community … and so fortunate to receive their blessings and counsel.  Yes, a very lucky man indeed …

Gathering the good …

“Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.” – Kevyn Aucoin

 

Today is a good day.  A day meant to hear the music of old, inner songs and learn from their lyrics and melodies.  Emotional songs … feelings … not typical music but moments from which I can see into my past, process and move through it, and set old songs aside as life’s journey continues to compose new melodies to hum as I move towards whatever destination is planned by the universe.

Each morning I spend several minutes moving through the news, gathering some sense of the world as they (those outside me) view it and choose to present it to its readers.  And each morning I re-affirm my conviction that the world’s complexity and frequent negativity, and its prevalent mean-spirited behaviors makes me yearn for the peace offered from the trees singing from the wind swirling in high mountain theaters.  That and similar images act as a vaccine against succumbing to the picture presented to thirsty readers.  So much effort … so many sources of fearful energy yet also so many reminders to look at even the smallest “good” that shows itself and applaud it while letting go of the negative.

Much of my working life trained me to be pulled and guided by the negative.  With encouragement from a close friend I now re-frame those patterns into more positive descriptions when doing the same work.  At times, the old patterns still misdirect me, so I constantly work to program my cells to respond in more positive ways.  Training my cells to see a healthier way of reacting … gathering the warmth of kind acts and conditions around me like cuddling inside a soft, warm comforter.  The world will not promote it … so I must create it.  I must discover that which gives emotional warmth then make choices that place me in the room holding it, not the rooms dark and drained of joyful color. I guess it’s my work … I guess it’s what needs to be clarified and processed as each of my days are spent moving towards becoming pure energy.  Thinking … reflecting … feeling … gathering the good … letting go of old patterns … discarding expectations … and forgiving the world around me since I know that everyone is doing the best they can do.  It is indeed a sometimes-confusing journey I am on … but it is the journey.  A journey given me along with the ability to choose … choose to do whatever possible to wrap myself in the healing warmth of my joyful comforter.  So, I learn to embrace it and make it mine … accept missteps and forgive myself … make choices bringing joyful luminescence regardless of the cloudy skies that might gather.  Yes … it is my work, but it is also my choice and the life rhythm I wish to create.   Yes … gather, collect, choose the warmth … and take yet another step … and another … and another …

Searching for the spiritual self …

“The essential lesson I’ve learned in life is to just be yourself. Treasure the magnificent being that you are and recognize first and foremost you’re not here as a human being only. You’re a spiritual being having a human experience.” – Wayne Dyer

 

At times I feel like such an odd creature … a man forever changing and forever sensing new aspects of his day-to-day relationship with his world.  And with each new discovery, my life improves.  Joy flows more freely now than ever before.  Listening to myself … my feelings … and charting their spoken course is now my tool for daily guidance.  And though I embrace such change, and even enthusiastically welcome it, I feel adrift at times … without roots … without ground beneath my feet and lacking a spiritual center or core.

As I continue my journey of maturing and purposeful aging, I sense that my transition becomes more and more a movement towards the spiritual and away from the earthly.  Each step taken seems to create an increasing sense of “shedding” … shedding that which is material and taking on that which is ethereal.  And now I find myself in that dreaded “gray zone” where one more step forward detaches me from the earth beneath my feet while I’ve not yet discovered the new ground upon which to land.

More frequently now … daily or more … I yearn for that spiritual landing place … that place comprising my spiritual home.  That place where attachments disappear, clinging is released, and I simply relish in the moment, totally at peace with accepting what “is” … leaving resistance checked at the door.  The search for joyful feelings found by living in the moment continues and is becoming more intense.  Many routes are being explored, yet the home meant for me remains elusive, so the sense of drift lives on within me.  It churns me … it causes me to feel incomplete … it brings a sense of emptiness. Yet I remain faithful to the belief that my answer still lies ahead and that my feelings will illuminate the way.

So now, in this moment, I continue my quest.  Will I give up … will I give in … will I abandoned my quest because at times the search seems endless?  The answer is No.  The journey itself is rich, plus the potential prize at its terminus offers the possibility of enormously wonderful feelings of completeness and peace.  I will continue my walk … I will be friends with the transitional darkness … I will continue to travel and listen … I will continue to experience and assess … I will remain an explorer and hold myself open to the Universe so that when the winds of discovery finally blow upon me, I will be ready to receive, embrace, and richly feel it.  Like Don Quixote de La Mancha, onward I go …

I get it now … it’s for yourself …

 “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” – Oprah Winfrey

 

Recently I was streaming an older TV series whose episode involved a bomb and its removal from a hospital setting.  The story span two episodes, and over that time one got to experience the tension, witness the heroic efforts by medical and law enforcement staff, and know in depth the individual characters.

As with a story, the commitment to helping and keeping others safe seemed to finally prevail as the ordnance was extracted then walked out of the OR.  As a breath was taken by us voyeurs as the bomb personnel slowly walked down the hall all hell broke loose as a fatal explosion emanated from where the bomb personnel once stood.

My heart sank, wounded by the wholesome efforts given by all yet the eventual demise of those that gave such effort.  The feelings were emotionally painful.  And though it was simply a story, the feelings that this created in the moment were very real and for several days afterwards drew my attention and reflection because they are feelings I’ve gotten in the past from similar themes.

I’ve observed that as our days unfold, so many instances follow this theme.  A few examples might include:

  • a young person contracts, battles, makes “the good fight” then succumbs to cancer
  • a military person remains behind to defend and protect his or her team as the enemy overwhelms their position
  • a firefighter loses his or her life trying to save an occupant of a burning home

There are many more examples, but my point is to illustrate that even when one is pure in heart, makes supreme effort, and is doing what we would define as “the right thing” they still come up short … loosing their life in many instances.

I see from the intensity of my feelings that some significant inconsistency exists between the scripts I hold deep within me and what happens in real life.  I hold on … resisting letting go of the fantasy inside me.  There is some “holding force” keeping me slave to this old script … this scrip that doing good for good reasons should “earn” you success.  And it is a fascinatingly strong force.

As I mature and travel this path of life I speak of so often, I see that there are no guarantees that doing what’s right, from a wholesome heart, and giving 110% brings reward.  Many have pointed that out to me, and I thought I embraced the “no expectations rule” more fully.   However, my recent experience demonstrated to me that an old paradigm still prevails … One SHOULD prevail when one does the right thing in the right way for the right reason while giving his/her all.

Why it took so long for this Ah-Ha moment I don’t know, but things finally gelled and I get it more clearly.  I’d fall apart when seeing the inconsistency between fictional or real events, and the old paradigm.  Each time I would ask … “Why should one even try if the formula has no relevance?”  Then the answer (again, told me before but not fully internalized) came to me.  The answer relies again on those “feelings” I talk about often.  The answer is that choosing to do the right things for the right reason in the fullest way is simply done because it makes ME feel good inside … and for no other reason.  There is no right or wrong … there is no moral construct … there is no universal truth in play  … there are only the feelings that will result from taking certain actions once I make a choice.  IT IS ALL ABOUT ME!!!   If others react positively that’s wonderful but the risks of allowing that to create expectations is great … almost too great.  Instead, my focus MUST be in the moment in which the choice must be made and based upon what feelings the possible action pulls from within me.  It also MUST be done independently of any sense that making the “good fight” choice is meant to reflect how one should act, live, or believe.

I feel that this slightly new way of seeing things may help me let go of the tight hold I have on my old belief.  I certainly can hold it in my hand and examine and rotate it, but I need to ensure that I fully embrace that it only belongs to ME, and that no greater moral philosophy or universal truth need exist. When the “good fight” doesn’t prevail, it doesn’t reflect a violation of a universal truth.  It only reflects one’s personal choice to do what felt good inside.

Yes … still work to do.  But there’s progress here … progress that’s felt … progress that may enable me to detach and let go, and land more squarely on MY feet absent of expectations of the world surrounding me.  It feels lonelier in a world without expectations … but it seems that is the way it needs to be.  Yes, an explorer’s life is lonelier, but it is richly adventuresome too.  And even though it’s a bit lonelier there is a sense of greater freedom given I can choose more freely and selectively in order to create those wonderful feelings inside me.