I am privileged. I know that, I see the most glaring aspects of my privilege and yet I acknowledge that I couldn't begin to understand every nuance of it and it makes my life easier every single day. This inability to see it all, to understand it and be able to speak to it from a place of true humility often keeps me from speaking at all.
In what has been the evolution of what I would call my soul's awakening in the last several years I have found myself both wanting to speak and feeling inept to do so. That is the pitfall for me, the wanting to know what I should know, understand what I have experienced and communicate it with ease and confidence. So, I wait, thinking that some avenue of communicating will avail itself to me magically. I post on social media and it gives temporary relief from my bulging insides like that little thingy on the top of a pressure cooker. Unfortunately, the little spurts are not as thought through or thoughtful and they float off into the abyss that is the internet with little to no affect whatsoever. So, after weeks of telling myself that I must write, if for nothing more than my own sanity, we will write something.
I have pages and pages of writing, but little desire to go back and sort through it. Maybe I will, but for now, I will write what I am learning today, not what I learned ten years ago, although it is all the same down deep, all part of the perpetual learning and re-learning in this lovely humanity we all share.
I titled this Crisis of Purpose because I can't stop thinking about a comment that Elaine McMillion Sheldon made while being interviewed about her documentary on the heroin epidemic in Huntington, West Virginia. Sheldon, at the end of the interview in answering a question of whether or not there is hope in this situation, "In America and in West Virginia right now we are suffering with a lack of purpose and it doesn't help but fuel the need to numb that and I think we need to answer society's problems at large." It struck me and I couldn't stop thinking about it...I still can't. Her words are at the root of so much of what we are a part of today, specifically in America.
I believe we see it in our treatment of those who view the world differently, the attitude we have toward the earth and our responsibility for its care, as well as our flippant response to the insane mass killings of human beings on an almost weekly basis. Our obsession as a culture with winning and sport, even as we are being told over and over of the detrimental consequences of a human brain being smacked and slammed, even inside a helmet, and we are putting babies in full pads at 8 and 9 years old. We have such freedoms, such privilege and yet we have little or no purpose. It turns us inward, but not in a healthy way, in a self-absorbed way. We think killing elephants for trophies is no big deal, we see our children beginning the numbing from the earliest of ages with electronics that are literally reorienting their brains. All of these realities reflect that crisis of purpose.
For me, it feels relentless and impossible to change course, but I am reminded I am the only person I can change. I am the only human I control, so the question then becomes, what needs to change with me?
No matter how much one accumulates, consumes or owns, if there is no purpose, no understanding of how we are each a part of the tapestry of humanity, it will be empty. If your kid asked you today about your purpose, what would you say? This is not about elephants, or climate change or heroin, it is about meaning, purpose and care beyond filling the emptiness.
What I'm Thinking
“And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home.”