“Every living being is an engine geared to the wheelwork of the universe.” -Nikola Tesla, Inventor
I seem to have mislaid my purpose. Stay with me here. I am not having a crisis moment. This is not a cry for help. It is a serious question about my place in the cosmos and the work that I am doing. You may have felt this way yourself…. that you are doing work, creative or other, that no longer satisfies you in any way, shape or form. It is a restlessness that cannot be described in words. It is a need for change that the social, religious, and political constructs cannot help you work through. You just know that things are not right for you and you have to change.
I am not alone in this feeling. Recently, a friend of mine who has worked tirelessly along the lines of law enforcement for the past fifteen years shared that he is dealing with this exact same thing. He has been questioning the career path he has been pursuing (pun intended) and his life trajectory. He worries that he cannot change the course he has been going down for so long.
While taking cultural anthropology classes in college there was a great quote used by my professor. He would often state that for human beings to make changes “the pain of change had to be less than the pain of staying the same.” I have reached my threshold of pain and staying the same and am actively pursing change.
I have noticed in myself that when I have reached this threshold, I feel very rebellious of the things that I am “supposed” to do. Things that you are “supposed” to do often come with the word “should.” Should is a guilt implying word and we use it when we want people to conform. When I hear the word should, I shudder. “You should have gotten a degree in education.” “You should give up on/not get involved with that person.” “You should have saved and/or used your money wisely.” “You shouldn’t have bought that car, house, etc.” “You shouldn’t have trusted that mechanic, invest banker, person, etc.” “You should go to the doctor/dentist even if you feel fine.” And the shoulds go on and on to infinity. I just want to shout “Stop shoulding on me!”
Human beings, for the most part, want things to go along smoothly. We want everyone to do their part and get along. And as humans we have come up with social contracts, religious and political ideologies telling one exactly where and how they fit and what they are supposed to do. These ideologies tell you that your life has meaning and you have a purpose….. What happens when none of these things are working for you?
My advice is to look inside yourself. Who are you? What kind of person do you want to be? What do you do to have purpose? I have used the following quote from Steve Jobs in a previous post but feel that it works here as well.
“Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most import, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary” -Steve Jobs
For me the re-examination of purpose is leading me to make a major life change. I have turned in my notice to my day job and am in the process of preparing to move to a new city in a different state. I am daring to imagine a different life for myself.
When you have that moment that you have mislaid your purpose, remember the shape that change takes in your life is entirely up to you.