Archives for February 2010

Inventing Purpose

The unhurried ambling. The contemplative discourses at the cafe. Plain old ruminations. Whilst these qualities positively mark out an yogic aspirant or a poet, they spell utter disaster when indulged in by professionals. And I see a lot of them everyday.

For the record I define a professional as one who is relied upon to do a certain job, and is possibly compensated for it.

I see this as a problem of knowing ones purpose. Without purpose one lives as an animal. Works for the food, clothing and shelter. Breeds some, accumulates some wealth, breeds a little more. And leaves the world just as it was before.

Why is it important to know our life’s calling? Well, for starters, it acts like a catalyst that amplifies everything we do. It is a goal towards which we surely move even with the tactical diversions we might take. It is the salt of existence, tying together the various skills we bring together in living our lives and raises us to a higher harmony.

Without purpose one can go through the motions of doing everything but never accomplish anything.

The designer does not choose to think about designing beautiful things after entering office, he mulls about it every waking moment. The painter sees in his mind’s eye a masterpiece in every common view of life. The poet casts his many heartaches into sonnets that outlast the ravages of time.

It could be argued that these examples are beyond the ken of normal humanity, that these are souls that are born into genius. But nothing could be further from the truth.

It is possible to exceed ones station though born with no distinguishing signs that light up the skies, possessing only average skill, buffeted by an average job and backed by an average mind. Life and circumstance don’t have to define our calling, we can choose our purpose. Imperfect it might be, but still better than leading the life of an animal.

We are not required to be the messiah who redeems humanity. A little of ourselves to perfect is enough. Not to be one who stands on the borders of heaven vowing not to go forward until every soul is rescued from mortality. To awaken ourselves and a single other soul to the beauty and compassion and perfection of life is enough.

Purpose can and must be invented if it is not granted unto us.

To build something that makes life a little better for people. To break through the status quo by unceasingly pushing ourselves. To provide hope to a handful of people around. To be the possibility that the less fortunate can look up to. To be one the haughty fear to confront. Anything at all but the mediocrity that is given by default.

Trick is to do all this with humility, while curbing wayward passions and managing the weaknesses of flesh. After all, if the Master does turn up at the end of our journeys, we don’t want to look silly.

An Eternal Wilderness

Ivan_Kramskoy's_1872_-_Christ_in_the_Wilderness

A lot of us get by with the agenda life sets for us. An education, a career, family and the other assorted conventions get our attentions.

A few choose to question this default agenda. Attempt to intuit the mechanics behind this grand machinery, to understand the method behind this madness.

To a privileged few is given the wilderness. A barren interior landscape devoid of transient joys.

The inner monologue is the only company. And the ever present silent question that mocks us.

We stumble into the question at the most inopportune times. Life’s pressing urgencies carry no meaning here.

We contemplate, we wait and wonder in awe at the endurance of those who passed before us through the wilderness.