The Purpose Driven Life
I was having brunch with a new friend this past weekend, and we had that instant connection that surrounding yourself with good people seems to harbor. The conversation expanded very quickly into one of great profundity. He said something that struck me and has continued to resonate. It was an analogy he once heard…that there are those who sit in the stands watching the game and those who play it. Some people sit in the stands their whole lives, just watching, wondering what it would be like, to be on the field--feeling their heart drumming, tasting the salt of their sweat, hearing the internal voice driving strength and motivation into their every move. Some people might inch closer and closer to the field throughout their lives, and even jump into a game here and there, but ultimately live in detached observation. Then there are those who live to play. After an interweaving of each of our life’s work, zest for existence, spiritual connection to music, nature, and people…he looked at me with recognition and awe, and said, “You are someone who is constantly in the game.”
This is the highest compliment I have ever received in such a short period of knowing someone. I won’t outline the details of his personal life, but he made it clear that he had been inspired by me in the way I led my life. My work is play and my play is free-flowing. I have found my present calling by following my heart; at the same time, I am allowing unlimited space for whatever this purpose might expand to become. I no longer hold myself captive to an idea or a vision I may have pictured at one time, but don’t entirely desire anymore, if it has in fact transformed. We can look at life with openness and opportunity and not restrict ourselves to the rigidity of a “perfectly-mapped” plan.
We cannot assume to know how any of the external forces around us will respond, react, or align with our actions. We can only be responsible for what we set out to do and how we will self-adjust to the constant shifts of an ever changing universe. The player never knows with certainty whether the current strategy will successfully come to pass. You can only control how you will assert your efforts to drive toward what you want. Any number of things can and will disrupt “the plan”; it is up to us to accept this fact and not allow ourselves to get tripped-up. Whatever your current goal is, be it work-related or personal, you must focus on your supporting behaviors rather than the outcome. I encourage you to instill purpose in your day-to-day rather than obsess over how you eventually want things to be. After all, if you drive forward with steady dedication and authenticity, your end goal is a very likely side effect. Then you can free yourself of worry and fear and just live your life from a place of constant action rather than examination.
There’s all this business about “following your path”…but what if we didn’t have to live in fear about messing everything up and derailing our entire lives? What if our paths are simply where we walk next? We create our lives, as we choose. This is not to say we don’t set goals; I am saying quite the opposite. It is that we lay out our own goals rather than chase approval from anyone else’s expectations of us. And much like the players of the game, we follow the framework of a specific play, with the innate acceptance that everything may, and often will, go very differently. That is the beauty of the game.