Struggle as a Gateway to Purpose

Lifestyle By Apr 02, 2024 No Comments

In a recent conversation with my dear friend Oana, we explored the pursuit of purpose and what it’s like. It was a great conversation that sparked many insights for me. During the conversation, I learned that purpose is something we are drawn towards and desire to rise to. However, this process of “rising up to” is like an uphill climb. And with every bit of progress we make towards the purpose, we, too, get modified. We are changed along the way.

It all starts out with an “allowance” of our selves. We have to allow our selves to be. What this means is that we have to acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses because they define the limits we have to surpass and the tools we can use to do so. In a sense, this can be our current brand, who we currently are. It’s important to know this because then the difference between who we currently are and who we intend to become starts to show. For example, currently, I’m a person who loves writing down my thoughts in blog posts, and I’m working towards becoming the person who talks through these thoughts with others in dialogue to unpack them and learn from others. There’s a clear difference between who I am and who I want to become.

During the conversation, Oana described this as having to travel where the track has never been laid, and that endeavour comes with the challenge of laying the track as you walk it. If you have gone hiking in the bush, you know what that’s like. There will be sticks, rocks, poisonous bushes, bugs, creepy crawlers, etc., all in this unlaid track that you will have to contend with.

This whole endeavour is effortful and requires a certain kind of grounding. That grounding is your values and beliefs, which make up your legacy in the long run. For us to achieve our purpose, we have to hold a space for these values and beliefs. Part of the calling is to create a reality where they are true. The challenge is that reality is not something that we can perceive until we are in it. And that leads us to the apophatic. The apophatic is when we use what something “is not” to describe what “it is”. For example, when we are challenged to articulate our desires and wants, we respond by describing what they “are not”. It’s always easier to say something like “I don’t like ……” as opposed to describing exactly what you like.

In a recent discussion with Daniel Garner from O.G. Rose, we stumbled upon the “Apophatic Walking Stick” (AWS). The Apophatic walking stick is a metaphor for exploring the boundaries of the mystery of the unknown as a way to orient themselves with it and partake in the gifts it has to offer; more on that later. In this case, the Apophatic Walking Stick would be the practices we engage in to manifest a reality where our values and beliefs are true. These practices are the different activities we embark on- our projects.

These projects will be the building blocks for a reality that we agree with, and as we work on them, we ensure that they align with the truth of our values and beliefs. However, the current reality (the real world) is in a certain way, and for it to fit our preferred reality, a lot of re-adjustment needs to happen. This process of re-adjusting the current reality to the preferred reality takes work. There will be many obstacles to overcome and challenges to “rise up to”. All this is part of shaping, re-shaping, and removing what doesn’t belong and adding what does belong. This is always a struggle, and it sometimes can demoralize us and discourage us from seeing the journey through. However, when we stick with it and find a way through it, in retrospect, that struggle is what allowed for a strong bond to develop.

As we work on these projects in the pursuit of our purpose with respect to our values and beliefs, we start to develop a way that is demarcated by the truth of these values and beliefs and directed by that purpose we are in pursuit of. This becomes “our way”. We resonate with it and start to follow it. Following this resonance can sometimes necessitate that we pivot. We will experience different seasons along the way and must respond to them. This may sometimes require that we change direction and re-align ourselves better to keep in alignment with the purpose we are pursuing. The challenge with this is having to deal with the disappointment that comes with discovering the dead-ends we followed. It’s all part of the journey and like I like to say; “you live, you learn”.

Through this pursuit, we come to know ourselves better and learn what we need to say yes to and what we need to say no to. We start to have a ground of authenticity that we appreciate and become protective of. The self is an ever-unfolding mystery, and this is why the Greeks prioritized “knowing thy self” as a dictum by which to live. When you know your self and are in tune with your values and beliefs, you develop a way to avoid the pitfalls of getting lost in disagreeable scenarios. There will be fewer scenarios where you ask, “How did I end up in this situation?”. The more that happens, the more you feel like you are aligned with the pursuit of your purpose, and your gifts will start to manifest themselves.

These gifts that you want to share with others should be gifts that you partake of. You have to be your first customer. Charity starts at home. If you want to serve others, you have to serve yourself first. For example, in the movie Joy, the character Joy Mangano uses her creativity to solve a real problem in her life and ends up developing a mop that eventually everyone realises is the solution they all need to clean their homes. The more gifts we give to others, the more gifts we discover we can give. Growing when you are full is a challenge because there’s no room to grow. Emptying out these gifts by giving them where they are needed creates room for you to cultivate more of them.

As we transcend our selves in the pursuit of purpose, we discover that a calling is something difficult to cultivate. Part of the difficulty is that we are still beholden to our past selves. It’s like we are enslaved by them to a certain extent, and we doubt the new selves we are becoming. And sometimes, this can discourage us from giving the gifts that we want to give. However, it’s important to know that the gifts have to be given as they are. There’s no need to try to give “perfect gifts”. Just start by giving the gift as it is, and you will learn how to improve it. Give yourself the gift and see if it’s good enough for consumption. This will pre-empt the regrets that would emerge if you were unfamiliar with it, which can lead to embarrassment and resentment.

We have all been called to greatness, and as we “rise up to” it, the journey refines us. We need courage to endure the refinement process, and once we are refined, we can reach our purpose.

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