Not the Present, but the Promise

I wish I could sit here and tell you with all certainty that if you do “this”, you’ll be happy. I wish I could predict what it was that you were meant to do so that you could do it and fulfill your life’s purpose. I wish also that I could do it for myself,  but I’m sadly not a seeress and I can’t do either of those things.

A lot of people spend a lot of time trying to find what they were meant to do. The fact that us human beings don’t even know why we were put on earth or what we’re supposed to be doing while we’re here only makes it harder–with no real guidance, no real rules on how to spend your life, how do you know you’re doing it right?

You don’t, of course.

But happiness, that feeling of certainty that life is good, was probably designed to be our hint. As if every time we’re happy, it’s the universe rewarding us for doing exactly what we were meant to do. Which would make it seem simpler, then, because you could assume that the thing you’re supposed to do is the thing that makes you happiest.

If you look at heroes, however–the ones who were chosen or prophesied to complete a certain task–the purpose that they fight to fulfill is often arduous, painful, sorrowful, and the very opposite of happiness. Sometimes it results in happiness, like a rescued friend or a safe world, but other times it ends in more sadness and pain. So even though heroes may do the one thing that is their fated purpose in life, it might not bring them happiness after all.

You could even look at artists, or writers, or activists, or builders, or designers, or anyone who does something they feel they were meant to do. A lot of the time, they’re not happy. The stress of deadlines, the self-doubt, the disappointment, the rejection–it leads to some of the worst misery you could ever feel. But yet it’s what they were meant to do.

How do we know, then, what our purpose is, if we can’t always rely on happiness to tell us? How can we intuitively feel that we’re on the right path when we’re plagued by doubt and anxiety? How do I know that I was meant to be a writer?

Probably because it’s something I can’t live without doing.

If I didn’t have words to write, I’d go mad. If dancers didn’t have the ability to move, or musicians didn’t have notes to play, they’d go mad too. Even though the things we do make us angry, and make us cry, and make us want to smash holes in the drywall because we can’t take it anymore!, they’re things we can’t stop doing. They might not give us immediate happiness, but they hold the promise of happiness to come.

Heroes don’t always get to pick the quests they go on. They might sometimes be thrust the proverbial torch and told to head south till they drop off the edge of the earth and that’s not always an appealing adventure–especially not when there are monsters and traps and villains along the way. But any hero who was meant to go on that quest will see it through to the end, no matter how miserable they get, not because the quest brings them happiness, but because it holds the promise of happiness to come.

It’s difficult, to know what you were meant to do in your life, and sometimes it’s hard to be happy with yourself and your accomplishments. But as long as there exists a promise, there exists a purpose.

And don’t worry–your destiny will come to you, whether you seek it out or not.

Do you know what you’re meant to do?

May you find a purpose to light your days and bring eventual happiness.

-Alex

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10 thoughts on “Not the Present, but the Promise

  1. This is part of the existential crisis I’m living through ATM – not knowing what might come next. It’s very difficult. My inner child wails: “I don’t like this, mummy!” Problem is, I’m the nearest thing to a mummy she’s ever had, and I don’t like it, either … and the cure is far from clear.

    • It sounds difficult indeed, and I sympathize. Besides knowing I was meant to write, I don’t have much else figured out for my future yet and some days that gets stressful. But I wish you best of luck powering through it. The cure may not be clear now but hopefully it won’t be that way for very long :)

      • Amen to that, comerade! (Mixing my phraseology)

        Right now I’ll be happy just to have some financial stability; I should know in the next couple of days whether or not that’s likely to happen soon. That will, hopefully, hasten the healing which I believe I need before deciding what my next step forward will be. I’ve also started a course – studying tends to be my fallback option in times of indecision :-)

        • Congrats for getting the claim, by the way! Hopefully that eases your burden and you can indeed begin to heal more quickly :) Oh, what are you studying, if you don’t mind me asking?

          • Well, I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, because it’s not really something people who know me would associate with me, but I’m enrolled in an MBA. It’s filling a skills gap, so when I go back into the workforce I’ll be able to get the sort of job I really want (or work for myself again, only be better at it, this time!). If I really hate it, I can exit after 3 subjects with a grad cert, or after a few more with a grad dip. We’ll just see how it goes!

          • Ah well, we’ll see. I am very much all over the place at the moment …. I’m about to check when the census date is, to see whether I can still drop a subject. The days when I’m good, I can fire through stuff, but the days I’m not, it’s very difficult, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to predict in advance what sort of day I’ll be having next! *sigh* The perpetual cry of those with mental quirks.

  2. Not bad! Had another viral relapse earlier this week, and my pharmacist suggested a natural thingy to boost my immune system, and I haven’t had a sore throat since then, which is an improvement. I’m actually quite enjoying the one subject I’m still doing, even though I “only” got 80% in my last assignment, lol (I’m laughing at my “depression goggles” perfectionism). Mood-wise, things are on the up: I was talking just yesterday with my therapist about how the range of things I can feel or experience without slipping into depression or anxiety is growing, and it’s like entering a treasure trove (think Smaug’s cave!). So, all in all, things are looking pretty good right now!

    How are you travelling?

    • Ah, that’s no fun :/ But hey–the natural stuff sounds good! Mm, I know what it’s like to have the whole perfectionism instinct kick in. But of course I think we both know 80% is pretty damn good, eh? ;)

      That’s so good to hear, that your range is growing! I’m happy for you and your treasure pile :D

      I’m doing well, thanks for asking :) I’m adjusting to my summer schedule and have been feeling bloody tired but once July comes I should be full of new energy and caught up with the internet. Just gotta slug through the next few days.

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