What is the purpose of life? What is your purpose? My purpose?
It’s a word that is as clichéd as it is important. And one I have wrestled with as much as it has inspired me.
So often we talk of it as a thing, an ideal we must live up to, a definition we must clarify. And once we find it, then we can get on with living it.
I don’t think it is a thing. A thing can be found. Like a rock or the village of Ingleton. A purpose as far as I can tell, cannot be found. It is not lying in wait, out of sight, just around the next insightful corner.
It is an encounter, a posture, a potential, that calls forth what is within you, asking you to give it, to the world outside of you.
Here’s one story of how I think it plays out…
Your role in the great play
Your purpose is to fill your role in the great theatre play of life.
It is not pre-scripted.
The great director will not judge your performance. He hasn’t given you lines to deliver like a talking mannequin. There is no correct script you must adhere to.
But your role is pre-shaped.
You have been given a name, and a nature. A flavour and a feel. A history and a possible future. You cannot change these contours of the soul.
And so it is your task to live into your role, unfolding it as you play it. Discovering it as you act it out. Sinking into the original nature of your character as you improvise in the emerging story.
You must play out the most mysterious of contradictions. Surrendering to the director’s instruction, and creating your own self-generated narratives. You must do both.
Listen to the whispers
The one’s that come from beyond you. The ones that are spoken by whatever we call that which is larger than ourselves. This is the director of the play, trying to give us hints and prompts.
Can you become quiet enough to hear them?
These directions are not always ones you want to listen to, or follow. They don’t simply lead toward freedom and applause, they lead to the facing of those things that all your addictions are designed to turn you away from. They lead toward the speech that you have the most difficulty uttering.
And yet it is in those dark encounters that you will truly learn your own nature. The shadowy corners that when faced, lead around the bend, into an awesome and humbling new light.
Write your own script
What do you want to say?
What course does your own heart want to chart?
It’s up to you. It has not been laid out in some kosmic blueprint. Your chosen movements are not being pulled by some unseen puppet master. You have been given a role in the great improvisation. You have been given the rare gift of spontaneity.
You must trust the will of your heart. The desire of your own character. How do you want the story to end? And how will you choose to unfold your own plot toward the possibility of that finale?
The journey is not pre-written. The ending cannot be known before the curtain falls, if it ever does. The point, is not to adhere to what is supposed to happen, but rather to follow the movement of the unfolding story.
It’s a surprising, twisting and turning discovery. A delightful step, that leads to a challenging leap, that becomes an embarrassing stumble, that recovers into another delightful step.
And they are your steps to take.
How will you play?
You have not been given the lead-role – I’m sorry but you haven’t. You are not the star of the show. But rest assured that is not because you have been passed over for some more impressive performer. It is that there is no lead role. No chosen star.
This is an ensemble piece. The greatest ever created. A great sprawling epic, played out on the world’s stage, with the most shocking of twists, and the most exquisite of resolutions.
And no-one knows the ending. Not even the director.
How will you play?