Choices

I sometimes envy people who have had that “Aha!” moment which inspires the words, “This is what I was born for!” To have that certainty, that conviction, that gut-deep knowing that you have found your true purpose must be profoundly and life-alteringly fulfilling! It would, of necessity, focus you, give you “permission” to dismiss all other pursuits as irrelevant. You can finally, without hesitation or reserve, give yourself over completely to the joy, the love of your calling.

There have been those persons in our world history who seem to have had such clarity of purpose in their lives: Beethoven, Michaelangelo, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Jane Goodall, Stephen Hawking — all are considered masters in their respective works, and with good reason. Each found his or her place in the world where they were most effective, where they shone brightest.

But all that glitters is not gold, and finding that sweet spot doesn’t guarantee happiness. Beethoven lost his hearing and had multiple romantic difficulties. Goodall’s methods of research were frequently called into question. Michelangelo was constantly dissatisfied with himself, and suffered from melancholy. Mandela spent many years in prison.

Then, again, I wonder — is the focus of such a “true calling” ultimately limiting? Would it cause you to cease all other exploration, all questions external to itself? Would outside interests wither on the vine, as it were? Does such concentration shrink the borders of your world? If so, is it possible to find an in-between point where you still feel the conviction of your purpose and take profound joy in it, but do not close the door to all other avenues of discovery?

I believe that the state of mind can be attained wherein you can continue your focus on your calling, even follow it to the point of excellence, but not to the exclusion of other activities; from this centered point, you can more easily discriminate between those outside pursuits which are merely distraction, and those which harbor golden nuggets of genuine awareness, growth, enlightenment or expansion of thought. I suspect the dimensions of this peak are slight and difficult to sense. Thus you are unlikely to stumble upon its sanctuary. Instead, it must be actively sought and, once attained, used carefully, purposefully and mindfully, as one would utilize and maintain any gift of rare and precious delicacy.

It seems that we alone, of all the animals on Earth, are burdened with the search for meaning. And not even all humans, perhaps regrettably, are thus charged. Many, maybe the vast majority of us go through our lives never wondering why we are here, or what purpose we might be meant to serve. And sometimes — just sometimes — I envy them too.

Usually not, though.

For my own part, I cannot imagine an existence where meaning is … meaningless. Ergo, I continue the search for that true calling, and for the pinnacle of balance between it and all the unanswered questions that await.

— Drema Deòraich (from August, 2009)