On Purpose

Finding purpose seems to be a human purpose in itself. The quest that many times keeps us awake at night. What is my purpose in life? I used to ask myself that for so many years, and the answer seemed to elude me always. I engaged in many endeavors; pretty much, what I fancied at the time, I did. It was just a matter of doing it. I failed many times; I enjoyed many others, and so the tiny bits of happiness those endeavors brought. It seemed to me that once I was satisfied and “done” with something, I was on to something else. There was a sense of missing purpose in the back of my mind. Still is, but only at times. It presents itself as a question – am I doing what I am supposed to be doing? I remember telling someone who had been a teacher all her life, that I could not picture myself doing one thing for all my life. She told me, “I hope you find what you are looking for.” Very wise woman.

It wasn’t until I read this biblical verse that things became more clear for me. I had read the same verse many times, and yet I never saw the connection until one day, when I was feeling a bit lost in my current at the time endeavor.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Mathew 5:16)

What could be a bigger purpose than that? It doesn’t matter what I am doing at a particular time, as long as it serves that purpose. It is even bigger than I thought purpose could be for me. It is even intimidating, as filling those shoes is a quest in itself for such an imperfect me. When I read it, I understood that everything I do must cast a light that glorifies my creator. Wow, I thought; this is too big to even comprehend, and yet so simple and straight forward. It changed the way in which I view purpose now.

If you are searching for purpose, wherever you are in life, think about this verse. It will give meaning to it. Purpose won’t feel so far away or eluding you. I have written this verse on a card and placed it where I sit in the morning everyday, just so I don’t forget, because I tend to be an imperfect human who might forget her blessings at times. Someone who thinks that letting her light shine before men is challenging enough.

Elements of Transition

Transition – An instance or process of changing from one form, state, subject, or place to another. (American Heritage Dictionary

Life is full of periods of transition. From our conception until we die, we go through several stages during the evolution of our lives. We transition in decades, work, relationships, beliefs, likes and dislikes, appearance, and so on. It is so because we are alive. For some, there are transitional moments that present extreme challenges, and many times they come in the form of tragedy or sad news. These are defining moments. For some people, harder than for others. In any case, the outcome is defined during that process. I’ve been through many transitional moments, some easier than others, good and bad, and truthfully for the later, there were many times when I felt I didn’t know the answer, and as if I had run out of options, faithless, hopeless. I can look back at those transitional moments and see how many times the simple answer eluded me.

Pondering about these things, I was able to identify some elements or factors that might influence the duration and ease of the transition process. For the purpose of this post I will write referring to challenging and hard transitional times.

Time – Many times we feel that the catalyst to a transitional period could have not come at a worst time in our lives. We might think, why now? It is not fair. The nature of change is neither fair nor unfair; it just is. Our perception of timing is what labels it such; however, throughout the years, I’ve learned that there is no right or wrong time for change. God’s timing is perfect, even when we don’t understand it. Even when it may seem that our past actions/decisions might have caused or served as a catalyst for change. Time is human perception.

Money – Who on earth wouldn’t want a bit more of it? Unless you have taken a vow of poverty, money seems to be essential and necessary to live our lives, even if we have minimal expenses or few material desires. Money, whether in the shape of currency or any other form, seems to be necessary to propel forward. Many times, we feel that the lack of money prevents us from living our life and dreams. Although it is true that things flow easier when there is an abundance of money (at least in the perception of the material realm), lack of money should not define us. Money is a resource (as any other material instrument) to achieve something. However, during transition, we may feel that lack of money slows things down or even halts the process (hence the invention of credit). During this challenging period, it doesn’t occur to us that it is part of the transition, another piece to the puzzle, and not outside of it. Sometimes, in our most desperate moments money seems to have fallen from heaven at the right time.

Health/energy level – This concerns physical health as well as spiritual and mental health. When we feel good we have the disposition on taking on the world, but when we are not feeling 100% well, our perception of the situation changes. We feel that a situation is more difficult when we are not feeling well, are sick, or feel lost. The transition, whatever type, becomes insurmountable. Sometimes, we also experience a rush of energy to get us through, and it is only after we have gone through and looked back, that we can say, “I don’t know where from or how I got the strength to do _________ (fill the blank).

Past and new interests – Sometimes during transition, we undergo a self assessment that usually happens at the same time confusion/chaos sets in our minds. We start to discover that we have outgrown certain things, we have acquired other likes and dislikes, and other interests as well. The new you starts to emerge as part of the transition process. We have a glimpse of past and present, and even of what the future could be like. When we become clear of the things we don’t want anymore, but have been a constant in our lives, a series of emotions and feelings show up, making transition more or less difficult to deal with, however, necessary. The range of emotions/feelings seem to make things more complicated momentarily until we sort things out, discard what isn’t working, and decide, in order to move forward. There is no right or wrong length of time as it is part of the natural process of transition.

Failures/history/life experiences – Our past, our previous experiences, the labels we carry with us, our baggage, our personal history, seem to show up very loud during transition. Although it seems to make things more complicated or chaotic, it always comes with bits and pieces of insight and enlightenment, which seem to be necessary to propel us forward. Even when we seem to have lost faith when our history shows up, there is a switch that presents itself as a choice – to listen or not. It is when we choose to listen that we move forward. When we shut our eyes at the images that represent our history or close our ears to the sounds of it we are preventing our own evolution.

State of mind/attitude – We cannot be in a constant state of happiness or positivity; it is not natural. However, one can choose how to react to the challenge that is presented. The mood, the thoughts, the will are up to oneself. Of all the above mentioned elements, I’ve found that state of mind is the second most important during transition because it will determine much of the others. Our perception during a challenging transitional period might be clouded, but our attitude and disposition determine how bright the light on the other side shines through.

Faith – The personal beliefs we carry with us will support us during this time of transition. Our spiritual beliefs are there to comfort and guide us during transition. Even when we think we have lost hope and faith, those beliefs will show up in different ways to light up the path, so we find comfort and secure our step. This one, to me, is the most important of all the above mentioned elements of transition, and the one that influences all the others. Even when attitude fails, faith is there to pick us up.

These elements of transition are the ones I have identified during my transitional moments. There is no particular order to these, whether one or more, or even all at once show up during a transitional period. As a writer, I believe that transitional moments in life enrich my writing and help me portray characters and story in a more substantial way.

 

 

A New Season

Seasons change, and so do people. It is part of our human nature. We change views, places, appearance, and sometimes, beliefs. To be human is to be in constant change, and whether we realize it or not, we are in constant movement along with the universe. It is so simple, yet so profound.

I have changed throughout the years. I am not the same person I was as a child, or as a teenager, or as a young adult. A combination of factors in living produces a new me until the time of death, as far as earth time living goes.

Going through the many seasons of life is necessary, if not essential to our spiritual growth, and our humanity as well. Many times we are hard on ourselves, for many reasons; whether we miss a goal, fail at something or think we did, forgetting our many efforts at trying, and dismissing the trial and error time as of neither value nor purpose. Instead we label ourselves as failures, hopeless, or whatever label seems appropriate to our restless mind at the time. We forget the road traveled, and erase all our footprints, many times wandering in our minds and souls, and feeling a void, spiritually lost. “Not all who wander are lost,” said Tolkien, and that rings true today as at any time.

Many times, we feel that our guts, efforts, experience, resources, our timing, and everything around us is misaligned and does not suffice to attain whatever we felt was important then. The whole universe has conspired against us, we think; when in reality we have been part of that same universe that we label as outside ourselves. “All I have is me!”  we scream in anger, despair, and disappointment. “Me” as a sole proprietor of this body and mind, with disregard of the universal bond that unites all. Our human nature blinds us, and many times renders us paralyzed, fearful, broken. The same human nature that we count on to succeed beyond our wildest dreams. We grab positive thinking books, one after the other, in an attempt to fix what is “wrong with me” and light up the skies once more. We don’t realize that the darkness we feel and label as an outside-in source that is there to harm us, is our dismissal of the light we carry in us. It is dark; I forgot to turn the light on.

It is a new season, full of labels, but a new season indeed. It is always a new season.

Outlook

OutlookA place where something can be viewed. The view seen. A point of view or attitude. Prospect, expectation. – American Heritage Dictionary

As the new year starts, many people have looked back and reviewed the past year, their dreams and goals, where they are now in life, what was, what is, and what will be, and have set new goals, and embraced a new start; it is the tradition. Starting the year with a new outlook is not a bad idea. It renews hope, and refreshes the spirit. The end-of-year rituals prepare us for a new beginning, and new expectations. From our place or point of view, we take in the view – what was, is, will be – and we embrace a new attitude in the new year. So many things to do, to act on, to live, and to observe – 365 days of wonder, of outlook, of being, and of will be, of life.

To live each day like the only day. Many of us have heard this adage. It is beautiful, deep, insightful. However, I ask myself, “how would I live my only day?” To answer this requires outlook – consideration of where I am, what I see, attitude, and even expectation on this “only day.” If it takes an only day to live like that, why not a lifetime? Why not?

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” 2 Peter 3:8

My best wishes to you for 2018.

The Great Revelation – A Square at a Time

Imagine that your life is a canvas or a screen, a picture made of pixels divided into tiny squares that come together to reveal the big picture – the wholeness of it. Sometimes, life feels as a series of squares, of compartments that are not related. We keep a home life, a work life, a church life, a secret life (in some cases), and so on. We disconnect ourselves from the big picture, and end up feeling anything else but whole. We lack continuity because we have compartmentalized our existence. In the process, we have separated ourselves from the source of it all, the divine force of our existence.

Sometimes, it takes a step back or a few steps back to change our perspective from a square by square or pixelated vision to a wholesome perspective. It takes many times, more than a few steps back, to realize the connection between all the squares, all the compartments of our life, and in the end, they disappear and all we see is continuity, neither beginning, nor end, but continuity. That is more than the big picture; it is the great revelation.

Turmoil

Turmoil – Great confusion; extreme agitation. (American Heritage Dictionary)

 

Sometimes, it takes turmoil in life to be able to live as intended. It takes confusion and agitation to wake up a soul, to appreciate the little things and to understand what is meaningful in life. To slow down to the speed of now, and realize that now is all there is. To understand the fragility of everything else and its immensity, as well as its simplicity. To understand divine connection between all and between one moment and the next.

Sometimes, it takes turmoil to shake us to the core so we can center our being once more. So we can forget about purpose and become purpose, so we can indulge in being for the sake of being, and listen to the poem of life whispering its verses as we are and we become.

Sometimes it takes turmoil to realize that divinity is just a veil away, and that veil is always wrapped around us, and within us. Sometimes turmoil is all it takes.

Simple Beginnings

The other day, I was looking outside at the first signs of autumn, looking for an amber or red leaf here and there, while enjoying the silence that surrounded me. I could only hear the birds outside. The cats were sleeping, so the silence embraced the home. I love the green-yellow color of the grass as it is getting ready for winter to come. Autumn is a transition for nature, just as people have their own autumn seasons in life.

As I glanced at the tiny winding dirt path going from my neighbor’s home to her next door neighbor, I realized that I missed those early childhood signs of friendship and closeness between neighbors. The paths that were created by the frequent walks to a neighbor’s home, all natural friendly foot traffic. After living in New Jersey USA, for so many years, and closer to the city, I had forgotten those tiny paths crossing lawns that were so common in my childhood.

I understood that life has changed, and that the tiny dirt roads I admire so much in paintings depicting country settings had become my reality and a symbol of simple beginnings – unpretentious, serene, simple beginnings. I found myself reminiscing, with a smile and teary eyes. Sometimes what we view as the ending is just a new beginning.

Sweet Familiarity

As much as we plan our lives, unpredictability may knock at our doors at any time and we are forced to answer. Life is happening every day; life is every millisecond that unravels and it is continuity whether we understand it at the moment or not. Whether we measure life in heartbeats, brain function, hours, years, or the moment we open our eyes in the morning to mark another day, life goes on, and is, all the time. We may hope for better days but we are constantly living; we cannot hope to start living.

We take many things for granted – jobs, material things, water, electricity, a home, food, and unfortunately, even people. It is in the absence of any of these things (or all at once) when we realize their value. Have you ever thought of the possibility of losing any or all of these? How would you react? If the safety of your everyday routine were to be shaken and threatened, would you appreciate life more, however you measure life? Think of these things for a couple of minutes – from your basic needs to your more sophisticated needs or wants, and the people who make up your life circle.

To quote Forest Gump – “Life is like a box of chocolates … .” However,  we don’t expect to find the box empty. Our challenges in life determine our level of strength. Our perception of these determine our level of sweetness many times, but it is up to us to add the sugar. Maybe tomorrow may start and be similar to today, but it is when this sweet familiarity disappears that we miss it the most.

Sanctum

SanctumA sacred or holy place. A private room or study. (American Heritage Dictionary)

As writers, we tend to be protective of our space, our writing space and writing time. We view interruptions as muse killings. We need our focus and total concentration on the piece at hand. Our space, whether a corner, office or other, is our sanctum. It is where we retire to create.

There is another type of sanctum, an emotional and psychological one, where we retire to recharge or survive when things are not going as expected or life brings on a new challenge. It is in that very private space in the heart and mind that we thrive, and because of it, we are able to come back, stronger and wiser.

Every person has a sanctum and the ability to access it depends in part of our vision of the now (the present events), and our vision of the future. Our vision is important, especially in times of duress and calamity, because from it depends if we have the courage to open the door to our sanctum. Opening that door means safety, in a way, and also that we give ourselves permission to rest before we fight back with all our strength and wisdom. Instead of hiding in plain view, we retreat to become stronger, wiser; we enter the safety and warmth of our holy place, our private space, in order to survive, be, and become.

A Fictional Life

The lines between reality and fiction become blurry when life turns out a series of unfortunate events. I know; I’ve been there. Whether you are a writer or not, when life becomes a challenge, you cannot help it when the feeling of being a character in your own novel, sitcom, or even comic book, starts to creep in. Sometimes, life does not make any sense at all or it may seem unfair. In those circumstances, one tries to find meaning or purpose in everything that goes on; however, sometimes there seems to be no purpose or light at the end of the tunnel. I know; I’ve been there too.

How does one survive life’s strongest blow so far? So far, because what we may think is the strongest blow, may not even be a whisper of what life will try to teach us. Sometimes, one has to stay with the process – show up every day, be there, follow through, and go on without making sense of it all, and without finding a purpose to it. One goes on because that is the only thing that makes sense at that moment. Sometimes, without a reason, without a why. What does not kill you makes you stronger. The adage is truth. In the midst of pain, disappointment, ruin, and many out of control emotions, the human soul must find a way to go on, to keep on being. Months become weeks, weeks become days, days turn into seconds, and the first blink of an eye in the morning. Another day; the nightmare continues. It was not a dream. One wishes consciousness away. However, somewhere very deep inside, one manages to find a weak fiber of strength to take on another second, hour, day, week, month… . To live through the next second becomes something to shoot for. The why, the purpose becomes secondary, reduced to poetry dust. At that moment, one may switch between feeling the most alive ever or feeling the numbest of deaths. A hurting reality can make you feel alive or dead. It becomes a thin blurry veil. Time is the process and through it another reality is crafted each millisecond. As long as one exists in time and space, whether the real or fictional you, life will go on – with or without meaning/purpose. Once one has been through the chapters, might as well stick around till the ending. After the experience, purpose is not so important after all, being is. To be or not to be; that is the purpose.