On Choice

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“If you come to a fork in the road, take it.” -Yogi Berra

Last week, I asked what people thought of Purpose; the idea that we each have a single Purpose. I received truly lovely feedback, much of which was at odds with what I think is the current overwhelming view of Life Purpose, ie:

Finding Your Purpose = Winning Life

I am obviously tinged with a certain ire, if you cannot tell from the above statement, for I believe that this focus on Purpose has been incredibly detrimental for many people, including myself. Rather than helping, I have come to wonder if this search for Purpose hurts people’s psyches more times than not. And why? Because, to put it bluntly, many of us are unable to discover that Passion, that Idea, that Thing that will bring our lives meaning and so we feel that we are somehow failing.

This idea is so huge; so encompassing; so IMPORTANT, I have fallen under the weight of it; as have others I have spoken with, all with the same weary, hallowed-eye look.

Then I realized something, something key:

Purpose is based entirely on Faith.

Faith that there is a higher being; that there is a plan; and that Something is influencing our lives and ourselves.

What do I mean? Well, Purpose must come from somewhere.

God and Purpose

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).

“And I did not create the Jinn and mankind except to worship Me…” (Quran, 51:56-58).

Oprah and Purpose

“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born. And how you become truly alive.”

** HAHAHA! **

Did I just put Oprah and God on the same level?

Only slightly.

I am pointing out that one most have Faith in God to believe His words on Purpose (whether it is a Lord’s Purpose, or the Sole Purpose of worshiping Him).

Just the same, one most also have Faith in the intelligence and wisdom of Oprah to believe what she says as well.

Faith.

Now, I came to the conclusion some time ago that faith is a choice. For example, we can choose to believe that God exists, or we can choose to believe that he does not exist. (Side note, Oprah does exist, in case you were wondering).

Personally, I decided to not make a decision on the matter. After studying for years, I came to the conclusion that there is no undeniable indication there is a God; just as much as there is no undeniable indication that there is Not a God.

It is up to Humans to decide on what we believe. Sure, society and family have key roles in belief a lot of the time… we believe in what those around us believe more times than not… but, it is still us choosing one thing or something else.

Choice.

Faith.

We get to decide.

And I think that is very much the same way with Purpose. I have spent hours in deep and dark depressions because I was trying to find my Purpose. I am not a passionate person (Passion, apparently, being the road map to Purpose); so I do not have anything that I am passionate about. I enjoy things. I like to read… some of the times. I like to watch movies… some of the times. I find archetypes and symbolism interesting… but I would not label those interests as passion.

(Even now, I am tempted to wonder if my interest in archetypes and symbolism is something Purposeful… even after hours and hours and hours of trying to retrain my brain from thinking in this way)

In the end, albeit not as thoroughly as I wish, I have come to the conclusion that Purpose is as much based on faith and choice, as believing in anything. And as such, it is a choice to believe that Purpose is a hyped up term that is propagated to help the human masses feel like there is something more to their lives and the world that they live in.

Or.

It is a choice to believe that there is a Purpose for everyone.

I tend to believe the former; which is bleak. But, it is like a story I once heard about Christian missionaries traveling to the far reaches of  Denmark. The missionaries met with these pagan worshipers as they huddled around roaring fires inside their halls, darkness howling with deep ice and frigid cold outside windows shuttered to protect against nature; and the missionaries told these Norsemen and women that the frozen wasteland out beyond their warm halls was like their pagan religion.

It was cold. Unknown. Blackness.

But Jesus Christ brought light.

The missionaries told them if they believe in the light and the warmth of Jesus Christ, that no matter the hardships of their lives, they would be met with peace and rest in the afterlife.

From what I understand, many Norse decided to believe in Christ.

They chose to believe in something that brought them comfort; and there is absolutely, positively nothing at all wrong with this choice.

As today, in the face of terrorism, and globalism, and most importantly ease of life in the first world especially, there exists a need to feel as if there is a reason for living. Any reason. And that is NOT a terrible thing.

Sometimes people really do seem to find that Purpose. I have seen it; that all encompassing joy in what they are doing in their lives.

Kudos to them (said only with a tiny itty bit of sarcasm).

But then there are the Others… cough cough… me. I start to think about Purpose and I spiral into depression because I am WASTING TIME!

I AM NOT LIVING MY POTENTIAL!

I am FAILING!

So I choose not to go down that path.

Choice.

In this day and age it is sometimes hard to remember that we have choices. When working the jobs we work, we think we HAVE to be there because we have to pay bills, and we have to support our families. Sometimes it doesn’t feel as if we have a choice when dealing with difficult family relationships, or hard friendships, or illness, or pain.

Trapped and shackled.

I am achingly familiar with these two feelings.

But, despite the risk of sounding trite and new-agey… there is always a choice in how we approach anything and all things.

For instance, lately, the fact that the U.S. President Elect is who it is, feels like a choice that has been taken away from me.  But honestly, I can choose to fight him and his administration by getting involved. Or , I can decide to try to give him a chance, or attempt to change how I view him (yeah, no).

Or I can decide to do something else.

There are always choices. And this, more than finding a purpose or believing in a God, gives me hope. I get to decide how I want to live my life. Sometimes it feels like there is something working against me, but that again is only a belief, a thought, and I can work to change that thought into something more productive, or more…hopeful.

My PERSONAL conclusion, then, is that Purpose does not exist, not for me at least, and that I will live in the moment, not worrying about if I am living Right or if I am walking the Right Path; rather, only focusing on whether or not I am living well, and by those rules that I have placed upon myself… to be kind, giving, and to never cease asking questions in attempt to understand.

And that is my choice.

Be well, lovely readers, in this Holiday season and beyond… and remember, there is ALWAYS a choice.

Road Signs

Yield to the Universe
Yield to the Universe

Rejection. It is my theme today.

Yesterday I wrote about waiting to hear back from an agent regarding the requested sample pages I sent out last month.

Strangely enough, the rejection was in my spam folder from 10 days ago.

Go figure.

This then. The precipitous moment.

The life changing point. The fork in the road.

Ha!

No. Not really. A year ago I would have felt like that when I was sending out queries every day and receiving rejections every day. I was at a low point. Who wouldn’t be after putting so much work into something only to have it fail?

This year I came across that novel by chance and read through it. I thought, and still think, that it is quite good despite the feedback from agents. So, I sent it out one last time to an agent that I had some friendly interactions. I expected the rejection. Perhaps that is why it happened (seed planted and all that).

Whatever the case may be. It happened. Time to move forward.

That still does not take away from the sting of being rejected, nor does it help with the feeling that everything I do fails. Apparently, however, this response is one that is based in human evolution. Being rejected hurts. For real. In a physical manner. According to an article in Psychology Today, the pain one feels upon being rejected travels along the same nerve pathways of physical pain. This is so much the case that taking Tylenol will help with feelings associated with rejection.

*where is the damn Tylenol*

lesson6This reaction is because in our distant past, being rejected from one’s society, one’s tribe, was the equivalent of being put to death:

“In our hunter/gatherer past, being ostracized from our tribes was akin to a death sentence, as we were unlikely to survive for long alone. Evolutionary psychologists assume the brain developed an early warning system to alert us when we were at risk for ostracism. Because it was so important to get our attention, those who experienced rejection as more painful (i.e., because rejection mimicked physical pain in their brain) gained an evolutionary advantage—they were more likely to correct their behavior and consequently, more likely to remain in the tribe.”

So Now What?

In the way the Universe works, this morning one of the first blogs I read had to do with rejection. The writer had been rejected admission to a spiritual training. In the second paragraphs, he talks about the lesson inherent in the rejection.

The lesson.

There is always a lesson. We might not be under the threat of death (hopefully), but a lesson is often found while wading through the hurt and the feeling of failure and the feeling of not being good enough. Note, rejection also destroys our self esteem, temporarily lowers our IQ, and does not respond to reason.

Lessons.

Road signs is how I like to see rejection… well, when I have gotten over the aforementioned negative gut reactions. When things start to lose the tinge of failure, I want to believe that rejection is the Universe’s way of showing me my path.

This is not to be, and that is for a reason.

These are my thoughts on a good day. On a bad day, it is more of a f*ck this shit type of response.

Good and bad. Yin and yang.

Might not be exactly an accurate comparison.

Anyway. My point is that rejection happens. It happens in work life. In social life. In relationships, spiritual journeys and in catching the bus in the morning on time.

It happens.

And like so much, taking what happens and learning from it is the best way of adapting.

Not an easy task. Sometimes an impossible task, in fact.

But still the best response.

thumbs-down1My novel was rejected. Again.

It is the third novel that has been rejected to the point that I have put them to the side.

I am not sure what that means. Maybe it is time to throw in the towel.

A career change, as I mentioned?

I don’t know. Something to ponder.

But what about you?!

How have you experienced rejection? What did you learn from it?