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What Happens Once You Find It?

Have you ever lost something in your home, so small in size that you end up wondering whether you imagined having it in the first place?

A key, an earring or a very important piece of paper. The frustration of turning the room upside down and mediating miniature wars in your mind about the very existence of this item. “No, maybe this television came without a remote,” or “Perhaps I only came home with one earring from the store.” You begin looking in absurd and irrational places. “I remember going outside 2 days ago, maybe I left the remote in the garden.’ Eventually you accept defeat and find ways to manoeuvre the television without the need of a remote. You even forget that the TV may or may not have had a remote to begin with.

Then one peaceful day, as you’re graciously serving tea to your visitor, you notice the television swiftly changing channels. Your mind begins to explode with discombobulation. “Wait…she’s on the couch…and seems to be using a small rectangular contraption to control the screen, but how?” The memory of the remote re enters your brain. “Where did you find it?” Her response is disturbingly aloof. “You mean the remote? It was on top of the TV.” She continues to change the channel, unaware of the existential volcano that has erupted in your mind.

Sunsum | Chi | Dharma

Indigenous cultures and religions across the globe have ways of teaching members of their community about the idea of purpose. The Akan of Ghana call it Sunsum; ‘your God-given life's mission.’ The Igbo of southern Nigeria call it Chi, and those who follow the teachings of Buddha call it Dharma. Whatever we choose to call it, each of us has a unique gift to contribute to the world during our time on earth.

Linguistically, the term ‘purpose’ across many languages is written in a way that implies singularity. When spiritual leaders speak of purpose, it is often understood to be the one thing that you will leave in this world. What if our purpose is a multi-petaled lotus flower, with each petal revealing to us a different layer of our mission? What if the journey is transient in the way that ushers in new paths along the way? Our conditioning is such that we crave knowing, and because of this need to know, we oversimplify cosmic concepts. When we do this we miss the beauty of discovering the inconceivable parts of our purpose. We zoom in on a single petal neglecting to take a step back and admire the flower in its entirety. As people often say; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

We can attribute this singularity to the limitations of the human mind, or the restraints of language, or even the seizure of colonial socialisation. However, what remains is that perhaps we cannot fully fathom the entirety of our purpose until our time on this planet is complete. So the question then is, ‘If our humanness restrains us from fully understanding it, why do we focus so much of our energy on trying to find it?’

Letting the Road Walk You

In the novel The Pilgrimage, Paulo Coehlo and his guide walk hundreds of kilometres on the Road to Santiago. Paulo believes that the two of them are walking the road in search of his sword. For him the key accomplishment of the journey that yes, will be filled with many lessons along the way, is to find the secret of the sword. Throughout the road he is put through many difficult trials by his guide, but what keeps him going is the secret of the sword.

I won’t unravel the profound mysteries of the novel, for those who are yet to read it. But there is an important lesson that Paulo shares. When we first learn how to ride a bicycle, we begin by maintaining our focus on pedalling and balancing our weight so that we do not fall. We fall a few times to get it out of our system and eventually become more comfortable with pedalling. We then become familiar with the circular motion of pedalling our legs to create momentum. At some point in the process of riding, our mind relinquishes its focus on the action of riding, and starts to wander off and think of other things. We then realise that even without trying to, our legs are effortlessly pedalling. Paulo writes that when we reach this stage, ‘you are no longer riding your bicycle, your bicycle is riding you.’

Perhaps the same connection can be made to our cosmic purpose. We spend a great deal of time trying to find, navigate through what we think our purpose is on this earth. But what would happen if at some point you were to stop living for what you think your purpose is to make way for your purpose to be alive in you?

There is a strange inclination that we have inherited. The appetite to constantly be in search of something. In search of success. In search of what people call ‘self.’ In search of the meaning and reason for things. What I have come to learn in my 20-something years on this planet is that the journey often has much more to offer than the destination. The joy of a road trip is in the unanticipated discovery of the vast green land we are blessed to observe. It’s in listening to shuffle play all your favourite tracks right after each other. It's in the small towns that teach something about the simplicity of daily life. And it's in memories that visit our mind and wander off into the abyss.

Would it be such a bad idea to let your purpose meet you while you are fulfilling the adventure of life? What would happen if you were to follow what people call your intuition and live a daily life that fulfils not only your human needs, but is in alignment with your desires and is in service to your communities?

In the final paragraph of The Pilgrimage, Paulo writes “...people always arrive at the right moment at a place where someone awaits them.” Maybe if you concern yourself less with whether you are fulfilling your purpose, your purpose will fulfil itself within you.

Listen to/Watch:

Running - Blitz The Ambassador

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