There was once a man of great faith who found himself at the mercy of a disastrous flood (which is not related to, nor intended to be a comment on, recent events). As he climbed onto his roof, he was not concerned, so secure was he in the knowledge that God would save him.
As he waited for divine rescue, his neighbors came by in a little canoe and said to him, “Get in the canoe. There is room for you and we’ll take you to dry land with us.” The man replied, “No, thanks. You go on ahead and save yourselves. I’ll wait here for God to save me.”
Some time later, a rescue crew came by in a motor boat. They said, “Get in the boat. There is room for you and we’ll take you to dry land with us.” The man replied, “No, thanks. You go on ahead and rescue others. I’ll wait here, because God will save me.”
Some considerable time later, a helicopter flew by overhead. Seeing the stranded man, they threw down a rope ladder and said, “Climb the ladder and get in the helicopter. There is room for you and we’ll take you to dry land with us.” The man replied, “No, thanks. You go on ahead and rescue others. I’ll wait here, because God will save me.”
Much to the man’s surprise, he died. He ascended into Heaven where, once inside the pearly gates, he sought out God with a question. “Heavenly Father”, he said, “I waited and waited for you. Why didn’t you save me?” God answered, “I sent you two boats and a helicopter. What more do you want?”
An entire industry has grown up around helping you find your life’s purpose, your soul’s intention. There are books, seminars and websites devoted to this noble aim. You’re advised to remember what you loved as a child, write in your journal and meditate. There are clues in your astrological chart, (which I can help you with!), answers in Tarot cards, messages from animals and prayers for guidance. Dood, the entire Universe is conspiring to help you find and live a meaningful life.
I could go on for hours about why this is such a difficult process. Our mainstream culture does not, or has not, supported what may be derisively referred to as “navel gazing.” If introspection isn’t valued, neither are activities and pursuits that don’t avail themselves of a clear and certain profit margin.
Children who are creative are encouraged to pursue more practical endeavors. Kids who may prefer to spend their time doing scientific experiments in the basement may be told to go play outside. Television is rife with images of a limited version of success as measured by such things as big houses and expensive cars. Music and art programs are the first to be cut from school budgets. If a video game exists in which the aim is to create a meaningful life for your character, please let me know because I haven’t seen it.
Your parents meant well when they told you that music or art would not provide you with adequate financial support. They drank the cool aid which led them to believe that success means a house in the suburbs and 2.4 kids. (I think I knew some of those .4 kids growing up.) They wanted you to have what they thought you needed and were trying to protect you from a life as a, literally, starving artist. In school, the kids with the best grades or, oddly, the best athletes, were admired and applauded. All of these thing conspire to bury your own dreams, which regrettably leads to lives of the quiet desperation kind.
Perhaps you did dream of being a stockbroker or real estate mogul. Maybe you spent your childhood play time doing surgery on Barbie and Ken. It’s possible you were a budding politician even in preschool. You could be one of the lucky ones who aspired to life as a pro ball player. I find it odd that sports are so encouraged because, if only a handful of people become rock stars, it is also true that there are a finite number of pro ball teams. Perhaps it has something to do with police and football being the modern substitutes for knights and jousting. If you were instead a tiny poet or ballet dancer, it is less likely that you were encouraged to pursue a career as such.
And so we arrive at adulthood, make the big bucks, drive a fancy car and vacation annually at Necker Island. (If you vacation at Necker Island, call me. I desperately want to be your new BFF.) Most of these supposed trappings of success are what, if I can paraphrase, Henry David Thoreau referred to as booby prizes for living a miserable life. (Yes, I said “booby.” Get over it. What are you, 12?)
To be continued…