FINDING PURPOSE

I remember saying, when I was in my teens trying to figure out what to do with my life, that I wanted to be ‘there’ and not have to go through all the crap to get ‘there.’ Some of my classmates had their lives already planned out, knew what they were going to do, how they were going to do it and were on track to making that life vision a reality. I, on the other hand, really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I entered a Catholic seminary because I thought I would ‘fit in’. Later, I went to teacher’s college because I knew I needed a ‘saleable skill’. And, while I know I’m an excellent teacher, it has never been my life’s purpose. I was always a bit jealous of those who ‘knew’ what they wanted and went for it.

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I have been looking into passion and purpose for several years now. There are a lot of ideas and theories about how we develop and maintain them. There´s no lack of success literature and YouTube videos on how to achieve it. But despite the quantities of material I’ve consumed online and on paper, I still haven’t found the ‘thing’ for me. My career over the past forty plus years is more like the ‘one piece at a time’ car that Johnny Cash sang about years ago: a cobbled form of many and varied things.

I know that I wouldn’t have fit into neither the corporate, nor the blue collar world. I’m not an artist nor an entrepreneur. And I know I’ve been fortunate, but I’ve often dreamed a regular 9 to 5 job with a regular pay cheque and a retirement package: work, go home, forget about work. And then I give my head a shake because I know that a regular day in, day out routine was never for me. Factory work one summer cured me of that. I know I like variety and challenge. I like trying new things and implementing new ideas. I have developed a lot of skills over the years and I have always had to hustle to keep it all together.

What I have done with my work life has allowed me to try a myriad of things that have kept me off the streets and rather comfortable. I have time to read, think, write, chat and generally enjoy my life. What more do I need? I’ve been thinking about what happens for the next 30 years of my life. What should I do so that I’m not wasting my mind and body sitting in front of the ‘boob tube’ and life passes by?

There’s no ‘right’ answer. There is no ‘thing’, no ‘there’, no ‘arrived’.

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I’ve come to the conclusion that my purpose is to enjoy life. Simple. Welcome each day, each event, every challenge and every triumph as it come along. Stand up after you fall and move forward. Enjoy that too, it’s part of life. Falling short isn’t a loss if I learn from it. I don’t think it really matters what one ‘does’ in life, as long as you enjoy it. One size never fits all. It’s important to make things work for you and not what works for others. Trying different things in life has a cost, but it is one that I would gladly pay again and will continue to pay in order to keep exploring this incredible life and to enjoy what happens to me along the way. Yes, I plan for the future and I know that I need to be flexible enough to modify, change or toss those plans when new information comes along. What matters is enjoying today. Whether you’re the CEO of the company or the producer on the line, life can be enjoyed.

I guess I never, ever got ‘there’ in my life. I know that I never need to get ‘there’. The important thing, I believe, is to enjoy being ‘here’.

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What Do You Want?

“The indispensable first step to getting the things you want in life is this: decide what you want.” Ben Stein

When I first began my journey in recovery, I had a pretty good idea of what I didn’t want in life. I had enough of the guilt and shame. I was over feeling foggy in the mornings and  depressed most of my day. Self-pity was my constant companion in my isolation. I was, as they say, sick and tired of being sick and tired.

My first decision upon arriving at recovery, was to get off this merry-go-round and stay off of it.  This journey into recovery has lead me to many other decisions. These decisions have created a new life, one that does bring me a great deal of happiness, joy and freedom.

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But I had to decide. I couldn’t stop my disease and continue to indulge it. I couldn’t continue consuming and be in recovery at the same time. Making a decision is choosing a door. It’s like you’re in a room with many doors and you’re weighing the pros and cons of each possible door. Staying in the room is not an option: not making a decision is also a decision. If I stay in my indecision of addiction, I am deciding for addiction. Not making a decision is deciding to maintain the status quo. I can’t move forward and stay in the same place. In order to change, I had to decide to change.

Making a decision is walking through a door, closing it behind you and moving forward. It eliminates all of the other possibilities that were available. At first I was frightened. What if I made the wrong decision? What if things don’t turn out the way I think they should? This could all turn out to be a disaster! Or so I thought.

At the moment of my decision, any door would have been an improvement over where I was: stewing in my own filth. I am learning that there are no wrong doors to choose. Each possibility comes with it’s own set of promises and challenges. Each provides an opportunity to learn and grow in life. My decision to open the door to recovery has allowed me to get to know myself, my strengths and weaknesses, my character defects and my attributes. I am no longer stuck; I am moving and growing.

My recovery program allows me to know who I am and where I want to go in life. Every day I am presented with options. I now weigh these options as to whether or not they are moving me toward fulfilling my goals and decide for or against these options. Yes, sometimes my choice could have been wiser. Sometimes I am lead off course. Sometimes I find pain and other times I discovery pleasure. But knowing where I want to go in life allows me to steer toward that goal. Regardless of what happens,  I am learning.

And it all started with a decision.

Don’t Leave it to Chance

“Choice, not chance, determines one’s destiny.” Author Unknown

I came across this quote in one of the recovery web pages that I follow. For many years I would have said it was chance that determines my fate in life. I would have said you’re dealt the cards your dealt and you just have to make the best of it. I didn’t really bother, let alone believe in setting goals because life is going to steer you to go through the rapids or the waterfalls whether you like it or not. Some people are winners because that’s how the universe wants it for them and others, well, you know, karma can be a real downer.

I’ve come to look at things differently now.

I see that in the short term, for example, when I am feeling depressed or down, I can sit and wallow in my self pity and sadness. Or I can do something about it. I can go for a walk, go to the gym, talk to someone. Yes, I have to accept it, but I know that I have a choice to stay in my depression or act. The exercise or a phone call are action and action is what is needed. I make a choice and act.

When I was in the bitter morass of my disease, I knew I was harming myself and that I couldn’t get out of this alone. I accepted that. Once I stopped fighting, I was able ask for help. The assistance of others, my Higher Power along with my own determination helped to raise me out of a pit of my own making. Continued work on myself with the help of my Higher Power and my friends in recovery help to ensure that I stay this way. Had I really believed in fate, I probably wouldn’t be here any more to write about it. My recovery is not the result of the flip of a coin. It is the result of my choosing to move forward and co-create this new me with the help of my Higher Power.

I continue to choose to work with my Higher Power to re-create a new me. I am not the same person as I was when I came to the program. Ask those who knew me then. They’ll tell you.  I know that I have made big changes in my life and I know that my choices and my efforts have done a great deal to ensure that I did, in fact, change. I continue to change. I am not content to let the status quo remain as it is. I believe that my destiny is to ask, learn, grow and share as I make my way down the river.

“I may not command the wind, but I can direct my sails.”

This applies to all aspects of life. Things happen. I can’t control other people, places or things. But I do have a choice: I can do nothing and things will stay the same, or I can make a change and shift where I am going in life. And yes, it is a great responsibility. I can no longer blame my family, where I live, my friends for me state. Part of becoming an adult it taking responsibility for the decisions, or failing to take them in the past. I do have control.

Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change.

The courage the change the people I can.

And the wisdom to know it’s me.

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