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.

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.

Breaking a Lifetime Tradition

December is almost here. For me, it always meant a time for reflection, introspection, rating of my performance, and goal setting or resetting. Over the years, for most of my adult life, and even younger, I followed the tradition of setting New Year goals. I enjoyed the process. Hot cocoa at hand, pen and paper, I would sit and think of the present year, review past goals, and silently rate my performance. I was good at keeping what I set to do, and I accomplished most goals. However, I was disappointed for what I didn’t do. It felt as if I came short of something. It always left me with an incomplete feeling, and even a bit of sadness. Then, I would decide if to include those unmet goals for the new year along with new ones. I would finish my cocoa, and be ready for a fresh start.

I changed all that. I don’t set goals quite like that anymore. Call it wisdom in aging, or whatever, I don’t rate my performance anymore. Instead, I’ve decided to think of the “meaningful thing” that I would like to do for the new year, whether it is only one thing or more. As far as planning for it, the only planning I will do is to make sure that everyday I try to take a step in that direction, and leave the lists, rating, and self-judging to the side. Discarded are the breaking into small manageable goals rituals, as well as written tasks, along with the self-reviews. Either I am on track to do a meaningful thing (to me) or I am not. Breaking a lifetime tradition is never easy, but it is as simple as that.

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.

Simplicity

Simplicity – The quality or condition of being simple.

Simple – Easily understood or done. Plain and basic or uncomplicated in form, nature, or design.  (Oxford English Dictionary)

 

Over the past few years my quest have been to embrace simplicity. It seems that it may be part of human nature to make things less simple. We take something basic and we build or design other things around it, whether material or non-tangible such as rituals, ceremonies, celebration, protocols, and so on. We are embellishers by nature. We may become obscure, and sometimes obtuse, for the sake of completion, in our search for becoming whole. We attach rituals and a series of steps to spirituality, and even tools and other gadgets to complete the package.

Many times, all the preliminary stuff diminishes the joy and meaning of our intention and makes our target feel farther than it is. Why do we do this to ourselves? Is it in the name of wholeness, greatness, status, or self-preservation? Is it the nature of being, and therefore inescapable? Of having the experience in the material and the spiritual? Our entire civilization, society, speaks of it. We have taken the concept of shelter or the basic need of eating, for example, and built around it. Hence all the gadgets and toys we enjoy, the mansions, the fine cuisine, and all the emotions and meaning that we attach to these things. Even in the search for simplicity we overdo or complicate things – meditation groups and techniques, lists and journals, gadgets, rituals … .

Do we go back to find simplicity because we had enough or because we lost that part of us, the sense of it? Is it because without it we do not feel whole? At any point of our lives we may try to return to it, and the quest begins (sometimes with all the bells and whistles that we may attach to it). Is it the beginning or the end? Or a circle, a cycle of life?

This post is an example on how to take a simple concept and make it complicated.

Finding Peace in Who I Am

Peace – The absence of war or other hostilities. An agreement or treaty to end hostilities. (American Heritage Dictionary)

Peace. We like the word. We hope for peace on earth. We dream of peace. We pray for peace. However, we see peace as something outside ourselves. Something that happens in the outside. Seldom do we relate to peace within, or when we do, we attach it to spirituality.

According to the above definition of peace, the absence of war and hostilities is necessary to achieve peace. There must be an agreement, a treaty, for peace to be possible. To achieve peace within, the same agreement with oneself must happen, not out of spirituality, religious beliefs, or a third-party (although those could be a door/a catalyst for some people) but out of acceptance and understanding. How can I find peace in who I am? And without involving third parties?

It is a question I’ve asked myself many times. It is an evolving question. As individuals, we grow and evolve. We fight outside wars and inner battles. We deal with feelings, emotions, and facts. We dream, we imagine, we hope, we love, we hate … . We embrace complexity, many times in the quest for simplicity, in the search for truth. I’ve come to the realization that for truth to be found there must be inner peace, and for inner peace to be present, there must be acceptance and understanding of my self, of the one who I am, the one who grows and evolves.

How do I find peace in who I am? By not fighting the process. By not being at war or resisting the inevitability of evolution. By agreeing to take every step in the journey in acceptance and understanding. Whether the battle originates internally, or is a result of focusing on the fire being directed from outside sources, the only way to achieve peace is by looking at my truth objectively, and understand, accept, that I am in the moment. The past I am is no more, and the future I am is an illusion. I am now, and as long as I understand and accept that, then I am at peace.