This morning as I stepped on to the dark brown wooden dock, I jumped a bit from the heat on my bare feet and carefully tiptoed my way to my bright red Adirondack chair overlooking the lake. A warm blue color reflects the humidity in the air, like looking through layers of glass, making the distant mountain look even farther away.
Behind that distant mountain is pure wilderness, as far as the eye can see. Untouched, unspoiled, most never even explored by man. Each summer I canoe the lakes deep into that wilderness, where one can feel what it must have been like for explorers in uncharted territories. There is no road noise, no sound of humanity, only the splash of my paddle and the calls of distant birds. It’s a silence I never experience anywhere else, and it is intensely therapeutic as my eyes focus on deep greens and blues reflecting in the still water, and I spot an occasional animal on shore and bald eagles overhead.
This special place on the little lake on the edge of the wilderness feeds my soul. A walk down a wooded winding road is my morning commute for three months of the year. It’s quiet time, thinking time, a chance to breathe in the feel of the forest, the scent of pine as pine cones crunch under my feet and the soft carpet of pine needles puts a spring into my walk. Every morning’s walk is a time for prayer, to show my gratitude for one more season in this place.
Trusting More and Controlling Less
As I walk the road I think about all the past discussions I’ve had with God, decisions I’ve faced, my angst over certain issues, including some that consumed me unnecessarily. Yet each day walking that road I am reminded that I’m not in control and that everything I’ve struggled with was not worth the worry. It reminds me to stop trying to control outcomes and lets me focus more on trusting that everything eventually works out with perfect timing.
Something about the woods makes one think about one’s life and purpose. Perhaps the brain is stimulated by the air, the scents, the visual of greens and browns, and the light shining through leaves like stained glass. Sometimes I’ll just sit on a rock to ponder life.
Looking back on my lifetime of obsessions and things that seemed critical for months or years, I’ve realized that I’ve only recently found my true purpose. I stumbled along for decades searching for it. A couple of times I convinced myself that I had found it, but it never felt entirely like a fit. Yet today I feel deep commitment and comfort.
If you’re like most, you have probably asked yourself, “Why was I born? What is my purpose? Why am I here?” You’ve thought, “There has to be more to life than this.”
Perhaps your purpose is clear, or perhaps your compass is drawing you in a lot of different directions.
If you’re feeling a little anxious about that purpose and not having discovered it yet, don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up; don’t put yourself under pressure. You’ll find it at the perfect time when you’re ready to receive it. All the pain, discomfort, stress, anger, hurt, fear, illness, sadness, uneasiness, and unanswered prayers are the seasoning that prepares us for the right moment.
And you may find the things you hate most about yourself, your circumstances, your upbringing, or your physical attributes are the very things that lead you to the clues that help find those answers. The things you’ve always perceived as negatives may be things you can use to your benefit. Embrace everything about yourself; these are the cards you were dealt, and that has everything to do with your purpose.
Also know that you may already have discovered it unknowingly. I was working within my purpose for a few years before I discovered it was my true purpose.
Protecting Your Purpose
Once you’ve discovered it and realized how it will impact the world around you, protect it with everything you have, because your mission may take years or decades to build momentum. Therefore you need to use impeccable self-care for your mind, your body, and your spirit and your attitude. You need to be tuned in to what you are receiving and transmitting, because those things will impact the outcome of your purpose.
Aligned with Purpose
Self-care means proper diet and exercise to protect the vessel of your purpose and provide you with the time and energy you need. It means being aligned with your purpose and knowing what is and is not acceptable for you to achieve that purpose. It means surrounding yourself with people who will be supportive and shedding those who are not.
Monitor Your Influences
Chances are your parents may have expressed concern over who you were hanging out with as a kid, because they knew that who you spend time with is who you become. Your purpose requires you to spend time with those who are supportive. Though you and I can have resistance to negativity, I teach in my marketing classes that repetition sells. Sadly, negative repetition also sells, and that self-doubt starts to creep in when you have the constant drone of negativity around you. Though you may feel you’re being strong, any doubt in your mind that keeps you from your purpose is cancerous, and negativity breeds negativity. That’s why it’s important to distance yourself from negative people.
I don’t believe that anything is random. Each person born has a purpose. Some will never discover it, yet may have had a huge impact on others by way of unintended consequences. Others may allow their self-doubt and lack of confidence to block them from their dreams and never take action. Still others may shoot a lot of arrows before hitting their target.
Watch for it. Listen for it. Yet be patient. Purpose will come.
PS: Life has many chapters, many of which are about finding purpose. Yet so many who consider themselves seniors or elderly feel they have lived their purpose; they feel as though they’ve had their chance and they seek no new purpose in life.
I’m reminded of a surgeon who was changing the lives of others with his gifts. Yet in a brief moment, after a nurse noticed a shake in his hands, he had to pull himself out of the game, knowing that shaking might make the difference between life and death. Suddenly he had lost his purpose, and his dreams of another decade of surgery were shattered. It was devastating, and this great man considered suicide. Yet when all was said and done, he discovered a deeper purpose, bigger and better than anything he had done in the earlier parts of his life. He now looks at that devastating moment as the best thing that ever happened to him.
If you are breathing, there is more purpose. Don’t buy into this concept of “aging out.” Instead, age in. There is more to do, more purpose to find, and we must embrace every season and every challenge as opportunity.