At college, my first roomate and I sat one day in the Quad at Stanford with a mini-recorder making what we called “spontaneous poetry.” We were both super tall, skinny and sort of resembled each other, and our ability to get into the existential quest for more meaning together at one point was part alchemy and part the function of living with one’s mirror in many ways.
I was always on the hunt for an expanded reality.
Words, art, parties, adventures… I wanted it all.
I bet you do, too.
I didn’t know how to translate that into a career, however, which led to my very winding path of life to find “meaning” and “purpose.” I happened upon it for myself by accident, as did most of my friends., kind of following a string of interests.
This weekend my dear friend explained how he was really a Millennial at heart. A 39-year old Millennial. For those of you not up on the Millennial categorization, Generation “Y” is charaterized by a want of a better lifestyle and a need for greater meaning and purpose in life and work. Need is the operative word. Its a generation of 20 and early 30 somethings driven by purpose.
The question that was raised: “How do you figure out what that purpose is?”
I think I have as good of a shot at telling you exactly how to find your life partner as I do telling you a fool-proof plan to identify your “life purpose.”
I do know one thing that seems to hold true in physics and in life: if you force things they tend to not work out very well. The energy of angst, pressure and the hyperkinetic is almost directly opposite the energy of happiness, peace and fulfillment.
Picasso was quoted as saying, ” Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.”
Notice he didn’t say that inspiration had to find us completely stressed out and overwhelming ourselves with things to do in a vast quest for an abstract idea?
Work. But don’t flip out.
“Meaning” Of Life Is Highly Individual
No one can really tell you exactly how to make your life more meaningful, as it is something borne of your own specific nature. A certain peacefulness tends to characterize that meaning, though, rather than angst.
Gary Zukav wrote an insightful piece for Oprah.com where he uses the beautiful and rustic anology of baking bread to describe how one can bring more meaning to life in the practice of living…
“Creating authentic power is like baking bread. First, you have to want to do it. Then you need to follow the recipe. If you do these things, you’ll have lots of opportunities to experiment and be guided by your inner promptings. As with bread, it’s your own loaf that you are baking. Unlike bread, no one else can bake it for you.
The recipe for authentic power is as simple as the recipe for bread—harmony, cooperation, sharing and reverence for Life. Those are the ingredients. How you put them together depends upon you, but without all of them, authentic power is not possible any more than bread is possible without the ingredients that are required to make it.” (you can read the entire article HERE)
Notice that none of the words he used included ” working like crazy,” or “suffering trememdously” or “isolating yourself from society.” There is a sort of ease to authentic power. What makes life meaningful is often found on accident.
Work Is Only One Part Of Life
“If a job were a life purpose, people without jobs would have no life purpose.” ~ Caroline Myss
I wish more people realized this.
Some of the people I admire most in the world have no “jobs.” They do transform people’s lives. They do make the world a happier place. They do operate with honor, love completely and share profoundly.
Art Is A Magic Door
Make art. Even if it doesn’t help you find your life’s purpose, it certainly can’t hurt to be happier!
The best book I ever recieved, The Artists Way, opened a major door for me. Each time I revisit this book, more doors open.
In the space of creativity you can find things that your rational mind doesn’t quite know how to put into words.
Draw more. Paint. Play. Experience theater. Take classes. Wander. A hour a week, a few minutes a day… Let this energy flow.
and… I am reminded of Andy Warhol as I say all of this, and my most favorite quote of his, ” As soon as you stop wanting something you get it.”
Sometimes you have to kind of walk away from forcing things. “Meaning” is an abstract term unless it becomes grounded in experience. If you expreience of meaning is equated with a joyless struggle, is that what you actually want?
Dare to dream… and enjoy life a little more! xoxo Dana
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