You can listen to this post in audio, too. Press play below or download as an MP3 here.
Doing the work I do, I’m often in conversation with people about this question: What is my purpose?
My answer, my conviction, is this: we all have the same life purpose.
We have it by dint of being born on earth.
Our purpose is to create more love and light on this planet that is a dense and tangled mix of light and dark, love and fear.
Our purpose is to repair what is broken, to heal what is wounded here.
Our purpose is to make this place a little more worthy of the souls that inhabit it.
There are as many ways to do that as there are moments, and we don’t have to find our one big way, or our right way, before we start living that purpose.
We can each live that purpose in whatever job we are doing today, whatever circumstances we are in today.
I’ve written about this idea before here. But today I want to delve into one aspect of it, one I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: how that purpose is our shortcut to joy.
Watching my son play when he was around 9 months old pretty much debunked for me the contemporary California-y spiritual notion that we should be able to be perfectly content in the stillness, in the emptiness, just witnessing our breath.
I watched him – always reaching for the next object, in love with novelty and stimulation of all forms. I watched him work intently on challenges that he devises – how to get the shoe in the basket, how to clank the two cups together, how to pull the lid off the container. In him, I see so clearly how much we are wired to problem-solve, to work with purpose, with a goal. When he fell into focus intently working on one of those problems, with none of the squeals or screeches that come with boredom, I saw in him the part of all of us that is so content when we are absorbed in a puzzle, a project, a problem.
What I want to suggest to you today is that there is one grand puzzle that we are all here to solve and that is always available for our devotion. When we become devoted to it, we have found our shortcut to joy.
It is the problem of how to light a candle in the darkness.
It is the puzzle of how to let kindness flow forth where harshness is present.
It is the question of how to let love rule.
It is the challenge of being a ray of light in the world, discovering what that means in its every application.
The remarkable thing is that life absolutely fills our days with opportunities to work on this problem, if we move through the day with the mindset that it is our job to see those opportunities and to step up to the plate to meet them.
When you make this deep and big work your purpose, you receive clarity and contented absorption and fascinating daily adventures in return. And, you have your shortcut to joy.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
photo credit: Subhayan Das