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“When you understand that it’s foolish to look for fire with fire, the meal is already cooked.” –Wumen

I came across this quote in puzzlement. What exactly is that supposed to mean? Then it struck me as very clever.

How many of us spend our lives setting goals? Big or small, real or imagined, we reach for attainment of a better life. Goals are individual, because we all have our own sense of what that better life entails.  But when do we reach it? After what goal do we finally reach satisfaction?

Goals can be a very strong and positive influence in life.  We attain confidence and success as we achieve them. Yet often these goals can also become a distraction from the life we are already living. We’re so concerned with getting to the next step, that we don’t realize the step we’re on. There will always be a next step, and a step after that. But none of these steps will lead anywhere greater than what we keep inside. We all have a fire within us, and it’s then that we realize the meal is already cooked.

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Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. — Henry David Thoreau

As I packed up the last of my things for yet another move this year, I came across a small framed picture bearing the quote above. I remember the first time I read those words, and how I fell in love. “Yes.” I thought. “That is for me.” And so the little black frame has  traveled with me in every different direction I felt my dreams were taking me.  

Now as I gear up for the latest direction, I read the words again. It sounds so simple. And yet…persuing my dream has left me distracted, frustrated, homeless, lost, broke… just to name a few.  In ten hours I’m moving to the East Coast and I’m shaking in my $2 flip-flop sandals. I barely have a hundred dollars in my bank account and I’m about to drive 20 hours by myself to live in a place I’ve never been. Again. Go confidently?

As I read my question again, I realize the answer can only be yes. It has to be. There are so many reasons why you shouldn’t follow a dream…and if you ever forget, just listen to the people around you. But truly believing in a dream means the rest doesn’t matter. Despite the missteps it takes to get there, no matter the falls or injuries, you just have to keep getting up and going confidently until you get there. You have one life; live it the way you have imagined.

SailingOne doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
Andre Gide (1869 – 1951)

I don’t think I slept much at all last night. Or, much at all this year come to think of it. I picture what Columbus must have felt as he set to sail. Did he have sleepless nights, wondering where his ship might go? 

While Columbus believed the world was round, most people of his Era were sure it was flat.  He could have listened to them. He could have silenced his inner belief and followed along. But instead, he chose to sail.

Once on their journey, Columbus and his crew battled starvation, volatile weather and deteriorating ships. Worse yet, his own crew lost faith in the mission and even plotted his death. But they persevered and eventually opened the Eastern world’s eyes to a whole new shore.

I know Columbus’ treatment of natives makes him a less than worthy role model, but I still find the scenario that surrounds his belief and his journey fascinating. If he can take his belief to the edge of the earth, through every obstacle and rocky condition, then perhaps I can feel a little more secure in my journey. Even when others doubt what I believe. Even when conditions make me nervous. I’ll choose to sail.

Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. –Eckhart Tolle

There are a lot of quotes on the past, the present and the future. It seems people are, in some form, always juggling the three.

There is the past, where all events and experiences shape us into who we are today.

Then there’s the future, for which we plan and prepare for.

And ultimately, you have the present…each ticking second that we’re in.  

I’d like to believe we can all find a way to live in the present. Enjoy each moment for which we have it. But factors from the past will always impact the present. And it’s true the future may never come… but what if it does?

That said, I think we can limit how much of the past and future we let into our lives. Take each moment for what it is. Stop dwelling on the past–we can’t change it. Stop worrying about the future–it doesn’t help. Instead, focus on the moments we’re in–it’s what we have.

Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant, filled with odd waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like. –Lemony Snicket

Dinner at my parent’s house was never up for negotiation. “I’m not running a restaurant,” my mom used to say. “You’ll eat what we’re having.”

My parents made the best spaghetti. And stir-fry day was fabulous. But their meatloaf reminded me of cat food, and I was never too excited about green peas. Still…we ate what we were served.

As an adult, I can appreciate the different meals they made us. I had a healthy childhood with a variety of nutrients. Sometimes I liked it, sometimes I didn’t…but I can’t imagine the health issues I’d have if they would have catered to my sweet childhood requests.

In a less simple sense, I wonder if fate doesn’t work the same way. Sometimes we’re happy with what we get, and sometimes we hate it. And sometimes we think we know what we want. But when looking back down the road, how often are we suprised with the way things had to happen?

A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure. –Segal’s Law

My roommate always says how impressed and proud she is that I have a 4-year degree.  Now granted I’m happy about it and it wasn’t exactly easy, but I never really thought about doing anything else. It was always: First you graduate high school, then you go to college. For four years I took classes, got the necessary credits and followed the path to graduation.

The truth is, I think it’s after graduation that the hard part begins. Once the paved path to graduation is over, the world opens up. You no longer have a single, simple goal of finishing your degree. You’re just… done. So what do you do with your life? You make a lot of decisions, go down a lot of different paths and are never quite sure what the outcomes of the other decisions might have been. Sometimes, you’re never quite sure what time it is.

I was an angel for Halloween (Shocking, I know).

Learn to… be what you are, and learn to resign with a good grace all that you are not. –Henri Frederic Amiel

“Awwwe! You’re a good girl.” It’s what I eventually hear from people sooner or later, the first time I meet them. I’m not sure what gives off the impression, but I’ve never really considered myself a “good girl.” Sometimes, the tag can get a little irritating. I hate labels.

So I decided I didn’t want to be “the good girl” anymore. I wanted to be like all my friends and be included in all the shit they get into. I wanted to be fun, too.

I guess for me, that ended up being 4 bottles of saki, too many tequila shots and a slightly faded memory. Sadly, not too badass.

Then, I woke up. And that next day, all of my friends seemed to need me. It felt so natural to help them. I was happy to be able to help, and happy to not be the one in trouble, and I realized that “the good girl” is just who I am.

Maybe I’ll never be included in the crazy shit and sometimes I will feel left out. But when it comes to what I am good at, I’ll be glad I stayed true to myself.

*Just for the record, there is more to these friendships than just doing crazy shit and needing help. lol =)

“Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity.” –Christopher Morley (1890 – 1957)

Nothing sums up my dream for life so much as this. Too often I feel the need to be included. Being part of a group kills loneliness. But even more important is the need to be unique. What value is the same life lived by a million others?  Do something different and experience the world a little differently. Make your life stand out as much as possible, so that you know your existence left a different footprint than anyone else’s.

My Minnesota guy

“The heart has reasons that reason does not understand.” — Jacques Benigne Bossuel

On paper, I had the perfect relationship: He was sweet, a hard worker, my family loved him. He was responsible and saved up to buy a house. We picked out all the furnishings. I had just graduated college and we had all the starts for a perfect life. I couldn’t complain…but I did. In my heart, I just wasn’t there. I loved him, but somewhere along the line I had to leave.

I’ve been in California for almost two years now. In and out of different relationships, I’ve worked and been frustrated over almost all of them. Sometimes, I think back to my Minnesota guy and wonder why I left him. And I wonder how I can care so much about guys now that don’t compare. Logical reasoning says it’s crazy. But for some reason I can’t explain, my heart just knows.

“If Beethoven had been killed in a plane crash at the age of 22, it would have changed the history of music… and of aviation.” –Tom Stoppard

The obvious, is that Beethoven was a musical genious. Robbed too early of his talent, who knows where music would be today. But then you think about how chain reactions can have such a monumental impact. And how the death of someone of importance would make a much bigger impact than someone unknown. And how a single failure and fear could have potentially halted one of the most progressive human developments of all time.

Clearly, this wasn’t the case…and thankfully so. But it’s interesting to wonder what could have happened. Even more interesting, is to think about similar situations that may have stopped us from developing and moving forward. Where have we stopped short due to fear or a single failure? Likewise, can we use this idea to keep pushing forward, even when we feel like we should give up?

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