Monday, 6 June 2016

Rage Against the"Find Your Purpose" Machine

Everywhere you look--on posters and bumper stickers, blogs and bookshelves...
practically shouting at us, is the call to arms  to "FIND YOUR PURPOSE". 

(Which without your glasses on could be mistaken for find your PORPOISE which got my 11 year old excited).

Frankly, I think he had it right.  

Finding a porpoise is a hell of a lot easier (and more exciting) than finding your purpose.  If I open a book or check on the "Interweb", I can actually be told where I can locate a porpoise and go see it.

DONE.

(Vancouver acquarium has two named Jack and Daisy.  Here is their schedule. Go nuts.)

Every book on finding your PURPOSE? One disappointment after another.

Fair enough, most of them tell you straight out that your answer will not be found among their pages, which then makes me think:

"Ok so your purpose is to publish books and drive people crazy.  Good job assh*le.  You accomplished your purpose."

But once in awhile, one title actually does promise that the illusive answer to "what is your purpose" is among these pages, if only you can sit still and listen and decode them for yourself.   That's like hoping a porpoise comes into your house if you just sit still and listen for it.....

This was a horrible tease for me in 2012 when, being released from a three week stint in an adult mental health ward,  they set me lose, wide eyed, into the towering self-help landscape of colorful titles and promises of peace. 

Armed with my diagnosis of major depressive disorder with anxiety, still buzzing and loopy on my meds I searched for the right book to help me figure out what to do next.  

Of course someone with anxiety feels the need to pick the RIGHT book, and the social anxiety of being out in a bookstore when you really should be back at work like a "normal person"---not off on long term diability.....

I spent hours hiding in corners, skimming introductions.....

Each opening chapter sounded like me....
Each one dangled my peace of mind in front of me like yarn for a cat....

Yes, yes, this all sounds familiar, can you at least tell me what CHAPTER my purpose is in???  Is it math?  Is there a formula?  I'm not good at math but at least let me see that there is a formula!!!!!

Each time I would flip the book over and flip to the final pages....

 ....OH come ON why is "purpose" not listed in the index!!!!  


But it was never there.

Or anywhere else in the book....at least, not in a way that held any concrete solution for me.

Each time I would find myself flipping pages, thinking, clearly, I missed it.

Wait, I am at the end of the book....and all I got was "sit quietly and it will come to you?"  That's it???  

Like that damn "Monster at the End of this Book"  Sesame Street Kid's book (see post I did on that here).  Grover is terrified of the monster at the end of the book and it turns out to be him, and he is mortified at his gullibility. Everyone has a chuckle at poor Grover's expense, and he goes away feeling like a loser for being so stupid.


AM
GROVER!!!

If we are on this earth, at this time, in this place and body to find our purpose---I am almost 50---did I find it and not know?  Did I find it and it is over?  Or worse, is this it???  

No pressure people.....
Or is it still out there?????

What if I never find it?  

Just give me ONE DAMN clue on where to look!!!




Hmmm I did want to become a marine biologist in my last year of high school, until I realized it meant a lot of classes and then opted out to take a LOT of spares and hang out with friends.  

Maybe I WAS supposed to find my porpoise......

Ok so I KNOW it is incredibly arrogant to be criticizing all the Oprah Winfreys, and Echart Tolles of the world who do truly inspire and create and have found a calling that fills them with so much joy and love that they want to share that with the world. I know that.  Huzzah for them.

But for the less blessed, it only fuels the fire that we are not TRYING HARD ENOUGH.

Either that or we are too stupid to see that we had it and let it go, or we are living it and aren't using it or....are just oblivious to it.

The reality for me is, that I don't think I have one GRAND purpose in life.

I think we have different purposes at different times in our lives.  And I also think I am doing pretty damn good with finding those.

When my husband left me 7 months into our marriage, me 5 months pregnant, my PURPOSE was to not fall totally apart, stay healthy for my baby, get a separation agreement that got our unborn child's university paid for and move from part-time to full time at my teaching job.   And THAT is exactly what I did. THAT was my purpose --at that time.

When I had my very first dark spiral crash into depression, my purpose was to ensure my son was looked after (my sister lived with me at the time), go to all my appointments and do a big "redirect" on the "career path" by going back to school to get my masters---far away from my toxic job.  

It meant being a single mom with huge student loans, losing my house and moving across the country to live with my mom for a bit.  But once I found that purpose, for THAT time, the rest just felt right (not every day, but at my CORE).  
Glennon Doyle Melton
And in 2012 when my dark spiral crash came around again?  I self-helped myself and went back to what I know,  got some excellent help, and eventually went back to work to face my demons --- this time around with a tool box, loaded to the brim to help me manage.  

But the best thing I have done is is stop reading "self-help" books and start reading self-acceptance books!

Books like Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh, Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson,  and Carry on Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton--these  amazing women all have a story to tell, and by telling it, make it ok for the rest of us to accept our own story as valuable, truthful, flawed, amazing and real.  

Maybe that is their purpose. To put themselves out there so that people like me don't feel like Grover---ashamed and embarrassed by their struggles and challenges as they face their fears and keep on keeping on.  

Allie Brosh
We all have a story to tell.  The troubles come when the stories we tell ourselves are clouded by our illness and we forget how "brutiful" life is and how most of the people out there are doing the best that they can too.

We are all in this together. 

I don't need to FIND anything.  

My purpose is to get up, face the day and be the best me that I can be---which some days means I will feel like Grover.  That is just my reality.  

Each day is a new opportunity to practice being "flawfully" human.  

When it comes to me though, practice will never make perfect.

(You don't hear about the "Perfection of Medicine" or "Perfecting Law"....if doctors and lawyers only have to practice---people who hold other people's future in their hands---then why do I have to be the perfect me? 


I don't.

I can just be me---a human.....being.  


Deliciously, awkwardly...practicing human...... being.

Or Grover.  

I can always be Grover.  












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