Or maybe not.
Purpose—we all wonder what ours is and we all have one. Purpose is revealed when we stop trying to forcibly manufacture it. It sort of just shows up, and we sink in to a richer life. For some it might be a nursing school acceptance letter, for others perhaps purpose manifests as a baby in the womb. Some might find themselves at sea or fostering abused dogs or children. Serving food in a restaurant to a hungry community is noble too. Our purpose has been laid out for us by Ghandi. Be the change. With the utmost respect for Ghandi and an amateur knowledge of what was actually said in that speech, I would like to take his imperative a bit further. Be the change, and serve others. All good deeds are received into the collective pool of benevolence. Love and its efforts are never lost. When lost in a sea of doubt and despair, we can revel in the socio-spiritual affects of altruistic philanthropists like Mother Teresa. We feel the affect of common bond with people such as Walt Whitman, and his devotion to the Divine Self. Thoreau and his devotion to stillness. Sylvia Plath and her raw and vulnerable expression of the pain that pervades all things. Nature poets who remind us magic is real—John Muir, Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, and the like. The misfits and the rebels—Hunter Thompson, Bukowski, Neil Cassidy and his once-lover Allen Ginsberg. Their words have spoken truth to uncertainty. Don't we all know now that life is a beautiful tragedy, the only constant is change, and our soul's purpose is to love and be loved in return? Aren't we all timeless souls coming together for an infinitesimal period of time, helping each other realize our greatest potential? Maybe.
Or maybe not.
This post is simple and somewhat cheesy. Gripped by a love that seems bigger than me, I often wonder if it's true. I created this list. It is applicable for love of all types.
"There is no remedy for love but to love more."
Here are ten ways to know if the love you're feeling is true. Obviously, the list is short and sweet, and there are many others you may want to add in the comments below:
I find myself again at this maplewood bar, a tizzy and a thousand thoughts are teeming and telling me stories about who I am. The acoustics in the pub create a symphonic cacophony, and my ears are happy. Clinking glasses, chatter and laughter echo outward from the bar and stifle the trill voices of the young, drunk girls near the dart board.
The jovial man at the end of the bar speaks loudly with his hands then casts his attention lovingly toward his date. Their eyes have love in them. They are interested in one another. It's incredibly sweet to witness. It dawns on me, seeing them together, that what I want most is for a lover to find me deeply interesting. I want to find him interesting too. His very livelihood, his art of being, will inspire me. I want to do the same for him.
All this mushy revelation comes to an abrupt halt, and my next thought: I don't find myself interesting at the moment. How was I ever interesting? I danced, read books, climbed mountains, baked with applesauce in place of oil, and I kept a harmonica in my pocket. I am in a different place now, but I find myself mysteriously longing for these old attributes, ignoring the glaringly obvious gift in front of me. Everything is new. I've changed. I still climb mountains, but I make my cookies differently. My harmonica is in the key of C now, whereas before it was F. I don't want to be a shell of my former self.
What do hermit crabs do? They abandon their shells and move into new ones. They are still the same sentient being, still the same crab. They just look different, and their circumstances are different. I don't know how often they change shells, or why, or what the adjustment period is but I think it's neat to consider the metaphor. I am a hermit crab, sitting at the bar, loving the love that surrounds me, and sinking deeper into the colorful shell that I've acquired.
Sensual like wind,
You are the tempest divine.
These are the days that must happen to you.
An alchemy, a progeny of infinity.
Earth's process, manifest.
Happening like magic.
Sun on your face
A holy emittance of light.
These are the days that must happen to you.
Rain, floods, torrents--
Mud on your face.
All this must happen.
Whether or not
You ever really dared to live,
The days are happening
To turn you into gold.
Kindred knights in wielded steel
Unleash your heart, and feel the real.
Feel the pain and beauty too.
Each experience teaches something new.
Love within me, I see yours.
All relationships open doors.
How will I know the whole of Self
Without you, my mirror, a reflective realm?
Love me, fuck me. Leave me, hold me.
If I trust you please don't burn me.
Seeking a catalyst to turn me on.
Life's our playground, venture on!
I walked into the sandwich shop on the corner of Railroad Avenue and Holly Street in downtown Bellingham, Washington and politely requested a vegetarian on ciabatta bread, "Make me one with everything." It was lunch time. It was only Wednesday, and I had already run the gamut on my regular inventory of inadequacies for the week. I'm never enough of anything, and I always seem to narrowly avoid an early-onset midlife crisis. I scourge myself, undue punishment for being all the things I'm not. Really, though, who am I to the world? Who am I in the great Wild of Existence?
"Are you a skier," the delicate Asian woman glowing behind the sandwich counter asked me. She must have noticed my Kirkwood, California snowboarding hoodie.
"Snowboarder," I replied.
"I envy you," she said.
This brief exchange caught me off guard. In that moment, I realized I am something to someone. "Thank you," I replied. "Snowboarding is a lifestyle. It makes me happy."
Life is a creative process. It's not about finding yourself; it's about creating a person you can be okay with. Really, truly okay with. It is building a home to inhabit—the temple of your familiar. For three decades, I have been creating a home inside and outside myself. This level of abstract, architectural artistry takes time.
There was one time as a young girl I got lost in a corn field. I entered because it was cool, a reprieve from the hot, Southern sun. I didn't expect to get lost. One never does. Sometimes life is like being deep in the heart of a field of maize and getting turned around. Each dead end calls for new direction and demands backtracking. I made it out. It was nearly an hour later, panicked and thirsty, but I made it out.
Lunch was over, and I left the sandwich shop. The exit was easy to find. I stepped outside into the bustling Wednesday street, folks of all statures moving about. As the panic and the "Am I ever going to find my way trough this maze?" thoughts came again and quickly subsided, I looked up to the sky, and shifted my attention to all the holy blessings of merely existing as I am, and I felt at peace. The narrow swath of existence I sometimes live, to simply be an observer of Earth and its natural wonders, might just be okay.
I've walked a hundred roads, bustling city streets, forested avenues lined by California Redwoods, and mountain trails. I've walked a thousand miles through lush countryside, dust beneath my feet and joy in my heart. I've been lost in a hundred mazes. Perhaps the hardest journey, though, is the path I walk to the temple—the pilgrimage to the heart of who I am, and the path to purpose.
The heart is a lonely hunter. When we seize the hunt, loneliness dissipates, but a new beast finds its way to infiltrate the soul of love and you become acutely aware of all the boundaries you have set against it. Until your tale is told, the heart inside you burns.
The monster, the culprit, the accomplice to malaise and stark poetic disparity is surrender. Ironically, surrender is also the remedy. All the walls come crumbling down, past loves and connections remembered, words left unsaid forgotten, deeds undone absolved and your heart comes bursting forth and breaks free like a baby bluebird from its shell.
Here I am!
This is me.
I am raw, vulnerable to the whimsy of mysterious connection and the erratic pulse of a chaotic universe. When I realize this, all the sudden loneliness is replaced by this powerful personal proclamation:
"All I am is everything you see—all these tears, these sins, this great love. It's all apart of me. I exist as I am, and that is enough."
The sun usually wakes before us illuminating all the possibilities that attempted to shroud themselves in the night. As darkness dissolves, what remains is a morning promise, a yearning to reach that gem—the diamond in our hearts and the center of our being. Taking one moment I honor my yearning. I sink into myself, the old familiar friend of my soul. I quiet my mind, opening more and more and more of my heart so that the whimsy of the Spirit can enter. I've become aware of the faculties of my senses. Their utility is essential to enhancing this finite experience. Five sacred and gracious gifts. I see the world. I see beyond—the Now, the Then, and what will be. I feel earth beneath my feet. I am supported. I feel the rush of a thousand feels and become aroused at the opportunity to explore. I touch my Self—the core of my being. I find safety to reach out and touch you. Your physicality, your atoms, the music in the leaves of grass, dance to the beat of a thousand drummed up multiverses. I hear the old familiar song, and it inspires me to move. I hear you. I hear you. All of these things, you and me, and this magic I see, feel, touch, and see is sweet elixir, the exquisite taste of God.
I must have become insane and sane again at least 100 times since my last post. I must have covered 10,000 miles of countryside in my beat-up, but beast, of a Toyota Corolla. The last eight months can be summed up in three-thousand gallons of gas, six broken hearts, three flat tires, a few white lies, countless hours of doubting my purpose, hundreds of photos lost, a good hard lesson or two, a kiss here and a kiss there, sweet goodnights beneath the moon, mornings in dewy mountain meadows, and an innumerable surplus of love and new understanding for the way world is and the way I am in the world. The expansiveness of my experiences blows my mind, and I am grateful.
All of the sudden despite all these beautiful occasions in my thirty-second year, in the hot, thick of an impending Arkansas summer, I find myself grasping at a mirage of stability and happiness, of a grounded life in love and purpose, and I wonder candidly, "What am I doing here?"
The more one searches, the less one finds.
Perhaps the lesson for me now, and maybe for you, is that there is no lesson. There is only the process of becoming. There is never a definitive why, a definitive means to an end, and there is no where I need to be other than right here, right now, writing my thoughts which may ultimately be absorbed into a vast sea of information, the black hole of cyberspace.
I am okay with that.
They’ll buy weed but not my words, cocaine but not thoughts and musings or a memento of an existential inquiry fashioned from the sapience of a riverside sunrise. All this work, the unencumbering of my mind, and the step into grace, cannot be imparted because seemingly there is no room in the lexes for my legacy. Some of my best work is just as ephemeral as the scent of coastal forest rain. Rain captures the attention of the senses. What are words though? They can be seen and heard, felt but not touched. Their effect is fleeting. Is it fanciful for me to assume that they will one day reach your hands and your heart? When you touch my words, when you feel me, you will know you are not alone.