Find your purpose.
Have you ever asked yourself what the meaning of your life is? Or of certain events that happened in your life?
Well, you’re not alone. I often have client ask me questions of meaning. Something happens, what does it mean?
They draw tarot cards, what does it mean?
My question is always, “Ok, you want meaning. And perhaps we can find meaning. But then what? How would knowing meaning serve you? How does meaning serve you when you will never objectively know if the meaning you decide it has is one thing rather than the other?”
The thing with meaning is that humans have an inherent desire for it. It helps us feel purpose in a world where we can never know for sure if there is any. If we at least know what something means, we think, we can start to understand what is happening around us.
Yet, there is a big problem with meaning. And this brings me straight to Star Trek and the ongoing discussion Humans and Vulcans have about logic and emotion. There is something meaning and logic have in common, and here I will quote Captain Katherine Janeway in the Star Trek Voyager episode “Prime Factors.”
“You can use logic to justify almost anything. That’s its power and its flaw.”
Just as with logic, you can use meaning to justify almost anything.
Yet, there is a danger to meaning that logic does not have: Meaning, when applied to the unknowns of life, is never far from belief in that we can never objectively be sure that it is true. Meaning is often a matter of internal perception of things.
If someone is hurting someone else, does that mean they are a bad person? We know, things are never that black and white. It is easy to demonize someone instead of considering that perhaps from their perspective the actions the person is taking mean they are a good person. Humans have a historical habit of hurting other humans thinking it means they are doing something good.
And here we come to the danger of meaning. It often erases any possibility of logically looking at a situation. It can also take us out of our body and into our head, disconnecting us from the experience of what is happening as we try and figure out what it might mean. This disconnection can quickly put us in the stance of reacting, rather than taking action.
As we consider what something means, we waste precious time being in our minds, pondering what will essentially turn out to be irrelevant information, instead of being fully present with what is.
The tarot is always an excellent mirror of the human mind trying to search for meaning. We draw cards, and sometimes we draw the same card over and over again. We think, what do these cards mean?
We might arrive at: It means good things are happening in my life. It means I am being hunted by bad luck. It means I will never get the relationship. It means, if I am patient I will find the love of my life.
So much meaning. But then what?
I suspect there is an idea floating around that is more often than not an idea many are not even conscious of entertaining: That if we know the meaning of things we know our purpose.
Here’s the thing: We can never know our purpose unless we ourselves decide on a purpose. Yet, intellectually deciding on a purpose is not enough. We want to feel our purpose. We want to find our purpose. And when there is a sense of purpose, it exceeds motivation. We will move forward through life, driven by our purpose, without having to do the hard work of motivating ourselves, and as a result we will do great things, make a difference, feel happy.
What I have discovered about purpose is that it is healthier to view it as something akin to an emotional state.
Think of a time when you took a deep breath in a forest, climbed a mountain, went scuba diving, swam in the ocean, watched a sunset.
That moment of awe that nature instills in humans. A moment where life, you, the universe, the world, everything makes perfect sense. Just for a moment. And then you are back in our heads again, thinking, and that moment is lost. You go back to work or whatever it is you do and once more you are filled with doubt and wonder what it all means, as if that would change anything.
Instead, seek out the way in which you can instill in your body the experience of everything being perfect just as it is. Like that time you were out in the desert or deep in the forest or at the edge of a lake. This is the place to act from. This is the place to feel purpose from. And the meaning of it won’t matter anymore because everything is as it is.
That’s why I say, fuck meaning.
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