I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here, but I enrolled in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition this year, and am almost ten weeks into the program. It’s been incredibly interesting and really fun work to be doing. There’s this workbook that we have that is more focused on the business aspect of the schooling, and we’ve been chugging slowly through that the past couple weeks. The beginning is very much about intention setting and sussing out your goals for the the school year(s) and your application of what you’ve learned (including any business you want to grow out of it). I love this kind of stuff. This might be a surprise to some of my friends… but I’m a huge internal planner. Goals, lists, check-ins… I do this multiple times a year. So the first couple chapters of this workbook have been fun. An extension of some of the things I already do.
Then I hit this one question, after a string of school and work focused questions.
“What is your life purpose?”
And I froze.
Actually, quite literally, paused. Pen suspended above the workbook, staring at the question.
Absolutely empty-headed and awash in a sea of blank space.
Let me repeat… I think about this type of stuff A LOT. It’s a constant record in my head… How do I want my days to go, to look, to feel… How do I want/need to be spending my time, where do I want my energy to go, what are my priorities. I can tell you lists of goals, things I want to do, experience, accomplish. In the next couple months, this year, over the next two years, the next five… I have goals that I know will resurface twenty years from now.
But my life purpose?! That’s a question outside of goals and plans. An intention stripped down. A purpose that would be yours whether you were a massage therapist or a social worker or a stay at home mom or a business owner. Whether you were married or not, had three kids or none. Whether you lived in New York or in Modesto. And I think it’s been a really long time since I’ve even thought to consider a question like that.
So I’m here… still letting the question marinate… but hoping that some friends can give some little shout outs, and help me out as I mull this over.
Do you know what your life purpose is? Have you thought about it? Are you willing to share?
I meditated this morning. And among the many many thoughts that swirled, was this need for connection. For a deeper foundational connection to where I came from. To something eternal. Something that has endured, persisted. Changed, but still is. Roots. Ancestry. Solidity. The earth even. My Native American side? Something that I can feel like I can draw strength from. Find beauty and power and patience in… when I feel like it’s dwindling in me.
Sometimes I feel… not disembodied (although sometimes I feel that too!) But sometimes I just feel alone, you know? I don’t mean that in a lonely, depressing way. But I mean… alone in this journey of personhood… motherhood.
Mark is a huge source of strength and support for me, of course, we’re such an undeniably fantastic team… But I even sometimes feel like we’re alone in this.
Not always. We have amazing friends and family… and it’s a comfort to be able to share in their journey… But I sometimes even feel like we’re all alone.
What I’m trying to say, is that there is this whole, rich, deep, continuous source of personhood, parenthood, motherhood… centuries and centuries of people who have lived, trying to be as true to themselves as they know how. Trying to act with passion and integrity, to find adventure and solitude and peace. Who have fought and loved and raised children with as much whole-heartedness and imperfection as all of us are doing everyday…
I know that…
But I want to feel connected to it.
I’ve been thinking about a theory my friend Kim Gill and I came up with a couple of years ago… about how a person’s sense of rootedness correlates with the place they grew up, and how long it’s been settled. I know this is a vast generalization, but she said that people on the east coast seem more grounded, sure of their sense of place… and that west coasters often seem more untethered… seeking more, always searching. And if you think about it more… take Europeans… the French, Italians, Grecians.. They have such an ingrained sense of belonging to the locality, so tangible you can nearly steep in it as a visitor, that I really think it fosters a sense of connectedness to history, continuity, that is missing out here…
Like we’re all sourcing from a wading pool, when in actuality, we have the ability to reach so much further and deeper…
I don’t have an answer… just taking notice of some things … in this small window of stillness I found this morning.
I’m integrating over here. Trying to integrate, anyways. Or maybe halfheartedly and distractedly trying to integrate.
Do you ever reach a point, where your head is just swirling with so many interesting, pointedly poignant, ideas that really feel very integral to living, that you need to pause for several beats and integrate? Give all those ideas a chance to soak and resurface. For the flavors to melt together and clarify a bit before you can keep inputting. I’m there.
I’m mentally suspended amongst some recent conversations with friends. Some are reflecting on life as it is, some are headed on new adventures and some are going through tough times. I have words from all of them floating through my head.
I also have the habit of reading several things at a time – multiples of books, articles, blog posts, and audiobooks. For instance, right now I’m at varying stages in a novel, a book on baby’s brains, a book by Osho on Creativity, an audiobook by David Whyte, and just finished one by Anne Lamott. This isn’t including the various blog posts and online articles I dip into.
And most of the time, I like it this way, because I have different books I pick up depending on my mood, or the amount of time I have when the reading bug strikes me. Different conversations I examine further when I have a moment. But eventually, it gets to a point where the information has all converged and assimilation is necessary or else more words and ideas will just get lost amidst the rubble.
But assimilation requires stillness. It means I have to reel in on the information input.
Maybe I should do the dishes… or take a shower… isn’t that where everyone says that the ideas that are colliding tend to calm and part? Smooth themselves out? Presence + Space.
I’m reminded, last night, as I have been many many times over the past year, of the importance of owning up to your own shit.
I remember reading a line in a book sometime, years ago. It said that sometimes we don’t even realize we’re in a bad mood until we’re around other people. It’s like, our moodiness is hard to recognize until it can bump or crash up against another person.
Never have I found that to be more true than in marriage. And I give myself a huge, internal pat on the back whenever I can pause in the middle of some misplaced crankiness that I’m splattering all over my bewildered, and most often innocent husband… take a breath… and explain what’s really going on in my head. Resisting the urge to imply that he is somehow to blame.
Most of the time I can get there… even if it takes me a while.
Sometimes I can’t.
But I sure do try. Because we’re allies in this life we’ve created, not scape goats for our own individual tantrums. And I like it better that way.
There’s something almost magical about seeing live music. The Santa Barbara Bowl in particular, is just such a gorgeous setting, and even when the sun has gone down, the presence of the beauty that surrounds you leaves its imprint. And I really believe that some music just needs open air. To vibrate and pulse without constraint or reverberation, to allow the soft notes and the suspensions to linger breathlessly, and fade into the night.
And somehow it strikes me, on occasion… that so many of the audience members are probably bursting with musical talent as well. Whether it’s a voice or a beat or strumming fingers or even a finely tuned ear. Because in addition to coming to experience the magic it stirs up in us, I feel like people are often attracted to something they feel has the potential to bloom inside them. And I marvel when I think of some of my own friends that I saw scattered throughout the bowl that night, and the talent and passion that I know is there. And how often it’s audacity and perseverence that seperates a working musician from one who sits in the audience dreaming.
“Being a mama is hard.There are tantrums, tired nights, morning sickness that lasts all day….But I just can’t shake the thought of what an incredible blessing I have been given.It changes how I see everything.God trusted me with these sweet little spirits.me.And it’s moving so fast.”
Every word of that post is the truth.
Because this time will pass so very quickly.