Everyone, at some point questions the purpose of their life. Why am I here? What is being alive about? Who am I? How do I fit in the world, in my society? I began what I call my search of Self sometime in my late teens. I was fortunate to grow up deeply loved and respected within a singularly stable home. But I was not genetically connected to the other family members who for generations had been merchants, physicians and architects. My German mother had herself wanted to be a doctor, so she lived vicariously through me, particularly, when she tried to push me away from the arts, for which I had an affinity, into the sciences, that made no sense to me.
I have long believed my confusion about me lay in having been adopted. I also believe that adoptees live in the confusion between trying to figure out what THEY would like to be and the path the adoptive parents have in mind for them. Without a genetic compass, we as adoptees have no point of reference, no aunt or uncle or anyone in the extended family to inspire us or offer support in choosing a talent that may lie within family confines.
So, in trying to figure me out, I began studying metaphysical sciences, looking for direction, in spite of having completed a college degree in languages. Languages provided the line of least resistance being that no profession caught my fancy, and I was already fluent in three. A career as international interpreter would at least provide a stable income. But I abhorred the idea of working an a cubicle, having to focus on what someone said and giving it back in another language. Many talents but no focus, no direction, there was nothing that revealed to me where the gift I had brought to this world lay hidden. Not astrology, palmistry, tarot, graphology… Career counseling fell flat as well. Perhaps that’s why I’ve had a few careers, and perhaps it’s the reason that at this stage in my life I am beginning to see that I was always a mentor. I had the talent to offer guidance and direction once I knew what people were seeking.
A few days ago I heard Malidoma Some, a shaman of the Dagara, a tribe in Burkina Faso, West Africa, talk about how through Initiation, youths in his tribe learned, better said, were reminded of what each one’s purpose in life had been destined to be. Among the Dagara, it is assumed that one comes to this world knowing one’s purpose. Before the baby is born, the elders meet with the mother and ask the unborn child what it’s purpose as a human will be so that the community may support it in it growth. The importance of adolescent Initiation serves as a reminder of what had been decreed before birth. Within the initiation, which is a physically grueling process, the young person comes face to face with his/her purpose. It is a profoundly spiritual journey, the depth of which can only be understood by those steeped in a deeply spiritual culture. After Initiation, the youth knows his/her purpose, and others in the community know they have remembered the information. I would love it if you read his fascinating interview, http://www.context.org/iclib/ic34/some/ and learn how Malidoma Some, after extensive studies, and in spite of having a doctoral degree from the Sorbonne, had no direction. But he knew he had a place of origin, and it was not France. He needed to return to where he had family and community, and where he belonged by the right of his birth.
We are all entitled, by right of our birth, to grow up within our family and community, our culture, where we learn from one another and honor our ancestors. Community is essential for many reasons not in the least for survival. The social services in place in our developed, material world, are faulty because they are merely services with much obligation and little empathy. They are not based on personal, communal connections. In lesser developed societies, social services are not needed, as families, neighborhoods, communities rely on each other. Children have every adult as a parent, and every adult cares and protects the children. Everyone has a role, including the elderly and infirm who serve by example and are cared for with compassion and empathy.
Wherever we are in our lives, we have a life to live. I like the thought of having accepted the invitation to enter this existence. As adoptees, could our ultimate pain, our initiation, have been our separation from our mother? Very possibly. For whatever reason it happened, it is a done fact that lies irretrievably in the past. We have no other alternative than to accept that whether our path is rough or joyful we are here to go through it. And most importantly, There is no one else who has our unique gift. No one else can offer what we have to share. By having a mother who gave life to us and a mother who raised us, we have two gifts: a genetic one and one that is social. We can make use of and offer a broader vision in our every day activities. Our feelings of abandonment and rejection, the many hurtful concealed messages we absorbed as children, all serve a purpose. Despite the pain we have grown, or can grow stronger, through our experiences. What other alternative do we have but to choose to live our daily lives accepting with grace and gratitude our blessings?
Through quieting our mind and going within in prayer or meditation, we access an inner peace and strength of unequaled value. It is the place where we reside. Where we feel connected to our greater selves that support our work through the day.
How have you come to understand the purpose of your life? I would love to hear from you… Mostly, how you are pursuing what you see as your path.