My favorite author, Cheryl Strayed, said, "Stop asking yourself what you want, what you desire, what interests you. Ask yourself instead, what has been given to me? Ask, what do I have to give back? Then give it.
I had a set plan for my life that didn't work out (surprise!!) So does the rest of the world. We are all (or, well most of us) trying to find a bigger purpose in life. Why am I here? What am I meant to contribute to this world? I know what I am good at doing and what kind of things I like to do, but how do I make this my job or my life? I struggle with finding a job I like that has meaning to me that also pays enough to live. I have felt pretty discouraged for about 4 years now as I try to figure this out. Just as I think I have it, it slips away. For most of my life, I have always thought of what I want, not what I have to offer. I think most people think like this until something happens to us that shifts our focus, hopefully for the better. Even though this is my life, it's not all about me. It's important to live fully, but live in a way that is beneficial to ourselves and others. In the end, people will not be discussing all of the money you had from working your way up the corporate ladder, but rather how you made each and every person you encountered feel.
So how do we figure out what we are supposed to be doing? How do we figure out how to give back? I am struggling in this and have been for quite a few years now. Often, I feel discouraged. Like I am stuck and every door I open is the wrong way out. I am not alone in this. There's probably many people at 26 or 46 or 66 that feel like this. There is no time line for life. But sometimes, we can't help but feel defeated by it?
I have been trying to shift the focus of my thinking. I think of all I have overcome and all of the things I have accomplished. I got a large scholarship to go to a local university, so I went. In college, I took up communications. It was always my dream to work in television. I took my 16-18 credits of college courses each semester, but on top of that, I was sports editor on the university's newspaper. I was weather girl, entertainment anchor, and then main anchor on their tv station. I also had my own radio show every week. On top of my classes and my extra curricular activities, I was a waitress at the country club near my house year round and also managed the pool in the summer. I did all of this and still graduated a semester early with close to a 4.0 GPA. And, in the midst of all of this, I lost my best friend, my Noni. A loss I always feared I would never come back from. I'm still here. And though it's felt like I've been trudging through mud since the day I found out she was sick, I still did all of that and I still keep trudging.
I am not on the television path I once envisioned for myself. I don't know what my career path is. Just as I think I maybe find what it is, it just isn't. This doesn't hold me back from living the way Noni lived, from living the way Cheryl Strayed describes. Even though I'm struggling to find ways to give to the world in my career, I still do things to try to better myself every single day, just as Noni did and as I see my mom doing, even though I know she still struggles with the loss of Noni, her mother. I am now teaching yoga after taking a 200 hour course. I carry my yoga with me every single day, on and off the mat. It's been my savior and it has taught me so much more than I could ever imagine. Yoga teaches us how to life. It helps us think on deeper levels and understand how our mind and body work and how they work together. Understanding this is understanding life. Now, I share what I have learned with my students and my students teach me new things every class. How we react to our physical practice on our mat transfers to life off our mat. If I fall out of a pose, does it really matter? Will I laugh at myself or curse at myself? Do I react? or do I respond?
Whether or not yoga can become my career or not is not really the point. The point is, I am learning new things to share with the world. And even if no one listens, I know I am trying. I know I am living with integrity.
There is an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond (my favorite show) in which the Barones debate the meaning of life. Frank says, "The meaning of life, here it is. You're born, you go to school, you go to work, you die. That's it. That's all."
He's not wrong. But what do we do while we are in school, at work, in between being born and dying that leaves some goodness back in the world. How do we make something even just a little better than how we left it?
Some people will never understand the path of life I am choosing. I don't really know exactly what I am choosing except to live a life I feel gives something back. I do not want to be in a job where I feel I have no purpose. I want to know I am doing something good for somebody. I want to be able to help people in whatever way I can. I do not want to be counting down to Friday every week of my life until I retire. Who knows if I will even make it to retirement? Why should we spend our lives not living? If you knew you were going to die in six months, what would you do? As I said, we have no time line. No one knows when the end is. We just know that some day it will come. We are not entitled to anything in this life. We are not even entitled to our next breath. If we think this way, we can truly live and we can ponder why we are living. Why am I being given this breath? Why have I been given this life?
Every second we have is a gift. We must seize opportunities to live and seek to give.