Clicking around in the webiverse today, I came across this beautiful quote from Maya Angelou, and it really hit home for me. This is something I’m continually banging on about to anyone that will listen: the importance of connecting to your life purpose.
“What is a fear of living? It’s being preeminently afraid of dying. It is not doing what you came here to do, out of timidity and spinelessness. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself – for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don’t know what you’re here to do, then just do some good.” – Maya Angelou
Connecting to your ultimate life purpose is huge. And intimidating. When we see where we’re headed, the hugeness of it can make us shrink back in fear. That’s okay.
There are many reasons we can’t always get in touch with our bigger life purpose. Sometimes we have to live within a smaller, more manageable ‘current’ life purpose.
Life Happens. Things get held up. Other things beg for your attention. Believe me, I know all about this one. I feel you. For over 3 years I’ve been trying to work towards doing healing work as my proper full-time gig, and it is still a bloody work in progress. At first I wasn’t ready, and then my body wasn’t ready, and then I realised I wanted to re-train in a new healing method, and then my household needed me to earn some funds, and then I felt too guilty to start, and then I wasn’t ready once again….you get the picture.
We’re all the same. No one is immune to the normal, necessary expansions and contractions of life. That’s the nature of life – a slight swelling of the waves to and fro as you navigate the waters. When you start inserting family, relationships, children, health and money into the mix you might find yourself staring off hopelessly into the horizon, desperate to connect again to that big sense of purpose. It’s not wrong to let your attention shift towards the immediate needs: charting the waters, watching the winds, measuring your speed, swabbing the decks, bailing out buckets of the cold water that’s crept in through the leaks below. It’s shit work, but somebody’s got to do it, and who else but you? It’s your ship, after all (and if you’re a woman, you’re likely taking caring of more than one damn ship).
Well-intentioned but misguided pseudo/faux-spiritual folks are busy trying to sell us a jacked-up version of life purpose.
Using all the quotes. Using all the memes. Downward dog, green juice, pictures of the sunset, #blessed. These guys have a tendency to tell you to chase only the big fish. Grab that big life purpose – carpe diem! That’s great wisdom if you live in a vacuum, are really privileged, or just serendipitously blessed to connect with your life purpose quickly, effortlessly and “for your highest and best”. That’s great, but not typical. The rest of us are out in this banged-up ship trying to make sense of where the hell we are, regretting our misspent youths and trying to figure out how to use this bloody compass. We can’t always tell which way the wind is blowing.
The most important thing is to just keep sight of the shoreline, no matter how far or how long you think it will be until your ships come in.
Your life purpose is not something that’s achievable, nor is it static. It’s not about a point of arrival, or a target. It’s something you are and its a unique energy that you alone bring to the world.
And just as you’ve changed over time, your life purpose also undergoes a metamorphosis every time it gets delayed or challenged. This is a good thing.
All that work you put into fixing up the ship might have given you a moment to ponder a new destination. You might suddenly discover your little tugboat is a sound, sea-worthy vessel which has more than enough steam to go the mile. Now you’re the proud owner of a strong set of sea legs, ready to take on the ocean. You met someone on that emergency pitstop for fuel and rations who gave you life or time-saving advice, maybe even a smooch or two, forever altering your journey. You might just ditch the ship entirely for a canoe, a barge or a houseboat. It’s your ship, after all.
The truth is, you have a purpose. It’s there and it’s already shown itself to you. The map to it is somewhere down in the bow, amongst all the instruments you’ve gathered for the journey. You’ll find it soon enough. Every time you worry that you’re getting further away from your destination, dragged down with the distractions of daily life, fear not. You’re just adjusting the sails, preparing yourself for a new dream you haven’t yet realised.
Chartering to a place only your heart knows.
It’s your ship.
Image from Randy Grskovic
Is this happening to you? Do you feel like you’ve gotten stiffed out of pursuing your life purpose? Share it below with the rest of the crew.