Why Having A Purpose In Life Is Bullshit
I talked to my friend for an hour and a half yesterday. She's a year or so post-cancer treatment and is wondering why the hell she was saddled with really yucky one, which required her to lose her a body part and her hair.
*Spoiler alert: Only one of these came back.
Meanwhile, my dearest friend is actually crying by the river (she's a bit Joni Mitchell but let her be) and wondering why she hasn't got some grand purpose, now that she has been dragged back from the edge of death's public toilet bowl.
After we spoke, I thought about her a lot, because I luff her and she's one of my favourite people in the world, and with her permission, this is what I texted her.
1) Purpose is bullshit. What if I told you that your purpose right now is to be here. That’s it. All you have to do is show the fuck up. If you want to paint, paint. If you want to write, write. Bake bread? Do it. No wonder so many people feel like failures. Being told they have to have a "purpose" makes them feel like they haven't hit their KPI's for life and should just shove their head in the oven and be done with it. Put bread in the oven, not your head!™
2) Strive instead for a curiosity driven life. One where you try things, share them with the world or noone. There are no rules. The next thing you do, is to breathe. You have my permission, if you need it, to stop seeking and just be. Take the dance class. Go to the Galapagos Islands. Eat the snail. Learn the language. Join the choir. Pick up the racket.
3) Not everyone's purpose is their job. Actually, very few people's purpose in life is their job. We put too much pressure on our career to be everything and more. It's actual fuckery, and is causing more and more depression in the world, because people feel shithouse their job isn't making them want to get up and punch the air with their "awesomely, awesome life!".
4) What about pursuing a creative life instead? Why not pursue this as your purpose and your job is just to support that. If you think of your work as just funding your creativity or curiosity, life is somewhat more palatable. Write the poem, or the book, or throw the clay down, or do up the car, or pick up the paintbrush! This is enough of a reason for being on the planet. We need your creative stuff so we don't have to feel so shit about the other stuff.
5) What I read from your voice when we spoke was the issue of worthiness. Why get cancer, survive, and then have nothing at the end of it all? What was it all for? It was for me. Your husband. The kids. Your family. Your friends. Your presence in our life is enough of a purpose. That shows us your worth. That isn’t to say that those who die from cancer weren’t worthy enough to stay, they were all worthy but you survived and survival was your purpose for a long time. That's enough.
6) But I am asking you to understand this.
- There is no such thing as fair.
- You are being stronger by being vulnerable and saying you don't know what is next than you are by pretending you have it all sorted. Noone really has it all sorted in their head.
- Your creativity is a tool for you to express yourself and what you feel. Try everything.
- Your relationships and the love you give and receive is your true purpose. It's everyone's purpose.
When my father died, the love was enormous. It was like a huge ball of flowers that became alight and then floated off into the ether, showering us with scintilla’s of light and joy and the extreme knowing that this was the meaning of everything.
Shore up the banks of your life with love baby, and the rest will follow.
Say yes to kisses and hugs, and hand-picked bunches of flowers.
Say yes to patting the neighbour's cat on your short walk up the street as you try and get your strength back.
Say yes to cups of tea and watching TV shows about stupid shit that will not make you smarter but will stop you thinking for a while.
Say yes to sunsets and clean sheets and hot showers and love.
Love is truly everything. And you are rich in it. Wealthy.
You're a fucking rockstar, you're just in rehab right now.