Out of Africa–On Purpose

IMG_4815This is my final post of a series of lingering thoughts from my recent trip to Mozambique, Africa. This post is on finding my life’s purpose.

I don’t know that I’m any closer to figuring out what to do with what’s left of my life, yet perhaps this experience has made things a little clearer. I know I like to help those who need it. I realized that whatever it is I am doing, I have to enjoy it–no more endless, meaningless drudgery with no connection to who I am. I was reminded that I still abhor the bureaucracy and bullshit that gets in the way of progress and putting talents to good use.

I discovered that I really enjoy the consultant or advisor role, and the fact that in a short-term contract, volunteer or otherwise, there is a beginning and an end. I am not entrenched in the organizational culture, and that allows me to approach the issues and situation with fresh eyes.

I enjoyed the structure and challenges of the work, the commitment to a purpose, but without the attachment to that purpose. I realize that once I’m gone it is out of my hands…and that feels good and freeing somehow.

I re-discovered that unfamiliarity brings out the best in me and helps me tune in to my inner voice that has all the answers.

I will close by paraphrasing a few relevant and meaningful thoughts that I heard recently from Deepak Chopra that have been bouncing around in me ever since:

Fear and desire can cloud our intuition. But beyond that is the source of all intuition. The law of detachment helps us embrace the unknown. Uncertainty is essential in our path to freedom….it reinforces our need to trust ourselves. Uncertainty is living from within, able to trust our inner being. No barriers, no limitations. Into the field of all possibilities. The intuitive heart knows. Listen closely. It will always lead you in the direction of your soul’s purpose.

Finding My Voice

Repressed. Stifled. Buried.

These words describe most of my life. Not in a poor me way, because it has certainly not been all bad (far from it), but these words do describe the backdrop that has colored everything, and has shaped who I am today. Always this unsettled, uncomfortable feeling like I am on the outside looking in.

I am used to not acknowledging what I think, what I feel, and pushing my needs so deep that I have often lost sight of who I am. It’s ingrained. Feeling shame, but not understanding why. Not allowing my essence to flow. At work and at play. Life in general.

The truth is I have never really believed that I am OK. Broken sort of. I have learned to work around all this of course, but the lack of confidence–the root cause–has never really gone away.

As I am discovering, many of these repressed emotions don’t ever really go away. They leak out in all kinds of other ways. Anger is a big one. Many emotions funnel into this one catch all emotion. That one I have become quite good at expressing. “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” I understand what Mark Twain means now. The anger has wreaked havoc inside.

But I have begun the process of untangling the mess I have created. I can’t change the things that have happened to me, but I can change how I feel about them, and more importantly, choose not to let them dictate who I am today, who I am to become.

Much of this shift began when I left my career of 23 years, about 18 months ago. I have been turning over those rocks one by one ever since. To see what’s been hiding under them. And there is an avalanche of rocks to choose from. But lots more light now to shine under them.

And I am learning something very powerful through expression. Learning to release those pent up feelings in a healthier way. Talking about what I feel. Figuring out what I want and saying it. Learning to listen to….to tune in to what my emotions are telling me. To act on them and not let them fester. My wife is helping me with this…with her love, support, and encouragement.

Writing about what I feel…another outlet I could never have imagined only a few months ago. This blog, for me, has become a godsend…literally. It’s helping me to make sense of the inner chaos, to work through and express things that are on my mind. I panic at times that I won’t have anything of value to say, or even anything to say at all. But I continue to dig, and the thoughts keep bubbling up from somewhere.

And singing. I feel the shift with this one especially. I have always loved to sing, but what used to come out was sort of flat….not much “oumph” behind it. But I have always felt that there is an inner “rock star” in there somewhere, as my friend Kurt put it.

The rock star is simply me. The real me. I am in the process of finding and releasing him. Rob, my voice coach, has helped me unlock what’s been buried for so long. And what’s emerging has life. Passion. Soul. A new sound.

“Who gives a shit,” he says. “Just let it fly.” And he’s right. And now I am.

I am slowly realizing that I have something to say.

I am starting to find my voice.