For all millennia that humans have inhabited this Earth, there is one compelling question that mankind returns to, again and again, in our search for deeper meaning and greater understanding. At first glance, this question may appear to be strikingly simple, but do not underestimate the power of simplicity. The spectrum of responses are oft times complicated, and most certainly, mystifying. To lightheartedly pose this question bears no great significance, but when we utter these words as our prayer to know truth, this is an act of the highest nature. And when we hear our inmost answer whispered within our own heart, we may find ourselves wandering in that middle ground: in a place where the old ways no longer work for us, yet we cannot see our pathway into the future.
So, what is this question that carries such import? What is it that we truly want to know? From within times of great brilliance or moments of dire distress, many of us have cried out, in joy and in pain, “Why am I here? What is the purpose of my life?”
There is a longing for understanding, a yearning to experience personal meaning and significance within our human lives. Many of us sense that we were born for something greater, but we have no idea what that might be. We wonder what life actually is, as we question its ultimate and essential purpose. Yes, we have an understanding of the biology and genetics involved with the creation of a new human being, but what is it that makes us the thinking, emoting, creative person that we are? What is it in us, that makes us, us?
From within times of great brilliance or moments of dire distress, many of us have cried out, in joy and in pain, “Why am I here? What is the purpose of my life?”
As a young girl, I wanted to know why I couldn’t simply slip into being another person, so that I could understand what they saw, felt, and thought. The idea of being able to experience the world from someone else’s internal perspective intrigued me. I remember sitting in our family kitchen one Saturday morning with one of my best friends, playfully talking about what it was that made her be her and what made me be me. I proposed to Cindy that we try to merge, one consciousness into the other, just for fun. As we sat facing each other, trying hard not to laugh, we concentrated with all our might, attempting to send messages back and forth between us. We did this for a while, each taking our turn, but how disappointing it was that nothing seemed to happen at all. Quite clearly, at the end of our little session, Cindy was still Cindy, and I was still me. Soon after, in walked my dad and some of his tennis buddies and I earnestly turned my questions to them. What might you imagine was their response to my youthful inquiry? To this day, their bewildered facial expressions are more memorable than anything they may have said at the time. Who thinks of such things on a sunny Saturday morning, when fresh coffee is brewing and the tennis was great?
Historically, we have looked to religion and philosophy in our quest for understanding, but far too often, we have been left feeling frustrated and dissatisfied, told that life is, quite simply, a mystery! We ask if we are our bodies or our thinking minds, and we wonder at this mystery which challenges concrete description and defies rational, linear thinking. We hear words like “soul” and “inner self” tossed about interchangeably, and we question if there is something greater to this life than our daily routines that keep us so frantically busy. We are immersed in the rhythm of the have-tos and need-tos, which only seem to deepen our collective struggles, leaving us wondering if there really is such a thing as inner peace.
Yes, our pursuit of truth is challenging, requiring us to be willing to think and respond in new and fresh ways, to be ready to break away from the pack mentality of thought. And so when we question what the purpose of life might actually be, we are treading into wild territory where we must be alert and bold and prepare ourselves to take the journey of a lifetime. And it is when we begin this journey and Leap into our quest for understanding that we might discover that our Tale of Possibility and Calling is not just a story after all, and that we, ourselves, are the master designers of our own beautiful plan: a plan we have likely forgotten altogether.