We all need it. A purpose, not a porpoise. "On a porpoise," was just a silly saying I used to have with friends. But how do we find it? What does it mean? These are obviously my thoughts, but I hope for this to be an open discussion that others will join in on and add to.
What is purpose?
A motivating factor. A drive to go, accomplish, and achieve. Something that all living things must have. Even the most simple, non-sentient life forms have a desire to survive and reproduce. However, Human beings have highly developed cognitive abilities due to are large brain and frontal lobe. This is a major blessing and can be a major scourge. Humans used to work hard to survive, and most of the world still does. People work their asses off, so to speak, to get food and shelter. Their purpose is to survive. But in the first world it is relatively easy to survive and thrive, so what is the motivating factor? ...one of my great questions and enemies.
How do we find such a thing?
- Use that forebrain. Again and again. Think about yourself, but try to not fall into the trap of 'overthought.' I cannot quantify the number of times I have thought "this would be so awesome to do and I would find purpose, but what about this this and that?"
- Make decisions about what you desire. It can be a desire for yourself, loved ones, those unknown, animals, the entire world, or a plethora of other possibilities. Pick one or more.
- Can't decide? Don't give up.
- Try. Act. This is part of the not giving up. Think you want to help others, but that just doesn't bring you joy or a feeling of purpose, try something else. Sometimes the thing you least expect to be your joy will provide it. Humans have an amazing ability to overthink things.
- What is life about? Holy cow, this is not to be taken lightly. This is a culmination of many thoughts. The granddaddy of all questions. Be careful. Be very careful. But if you can answer this, then you have the answer to so many things. That doesn't mean it will be easier to act on them, but it will provide impetus to serve and act.
Where Am I?
This isn't something I am immune to. Actually, I would say that I am prone to this question. Part of my depression lies in the fact that I lack purpose and also passion. Everything is mundane. Part of that is the depression. It dulls the glistening gold that is life. So many people see a treasure chest of precious things and I see a box of ashes. Completely skewed thinking.
I want warm fuzzies. Previously, I worked as a land surveyor. I liked it and I was damn good at it. But I burned out and left the profession. Part of that was getting together with my wife, who is a nurse. My job had human contact but it wasn't always pleasant, more competitive. I wanted to be able to say I had helped another human being, at the end of the day. And then I became Mr. Mom. When I quit my job I literally imagined I was going on a vacation to find myself. Wow. Being a stay at home parent is NOT easy. I languished for years in an incredibly difficult job. Over time I lost hope that purpose would ever be found. A medical career was calling, but which? In the meantime I started a photography business and then returned to website programming. There was no purpose in those things, but I was bored. I supposed that providing beautiful wedding or other photos to a client was somewhat fulfilling, but not enough. After years of thought, I decided it was time to act. I tried to decide what type of medical career would allow some patient contact (I am not incredibly personable) but would allow me to feel a connection with helping them. Thus I am pursuing a career in anesthesiology. I don't want to play god with someone's life. I simply want to be the person to keep them present in this world, especially during surgery.
Is That It?
No. Not for me. But I have to save my thoughts and that rabbit hole for another entry. What exactly are the ramifications of my chosen path? Oh boy. That'll take some thinking.
This post first appeared on Somehow Forward - My Struggle With Bipolar Depression And Suicide, please read the originial post: here