It happens… more often than you might think.
You may even keep similar Forget-me-not flowers in your window to remind you of your purpose in life but you just get tied up in other things.
But please consider, if you are not chasing your personal quest or, in fact, doing that thing you are on this earth to do, then what are you doing with your unique and precious life?
When Did it Happen?
When was that moment in your life when you got side-tracked and enticed away from your dreams?
Everyone has dreams when they are young. Everyone discovers they have a set of talents that is unique to them. Everyone wants to win in the game of life.
When did it all change for you, I wonder?
For me, I can name the time I got lost, and I can also name the time I found myself again. Getting lost was easy, but it wasn’t what you might suspect. It wasn’t temptation but fear that blocked me.
The moment was when my greatest success was announced. It was when I achieved a distinction in my Master’s degree in mathematics. I suddenly felt that I could never live up to its promise and I gave up my beloved dream of mathematical studies at that moment.
Finding myself again was a very unpleasant and bad experience. It often takes a disaster in life to break open your psyche so that things start to make sense and healing can occur.
For me, it wasn’t a religious experience or even a mystical experience, but a medical catastrophe. Frankly, you don’t want to wait for that to happen.
It was Thomas Merton, the writer and mystic, who was clearly divinely inspired when he said the following, that later business guru Steven Covey adopted full on:
“People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find out, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.”
I don’t think you want to say this about your own life. It doesn’t feel good.
So there is still time!
There was a time in your past when you received the message on what you need to do with your life. It’s even there in the Bible and refers to a dream experience. It says in Matthew 24:42-44 that if you meet Jesus it will be at a time when you least expect it because he will come or pass by “as a thief in the night” and “so you must be ready”.
The thief in the night is like an intruder or a splinter in your dream. And being “in the night” is a reference to being in that dream too. The thief may catch you by surprise, just as you will certainly remember the prompt, thing or feeling you had in your dream when you wake up.
You can’t actually miss such a message, but you can ignore it.
Your ambitions have a habit of calling you up on more than one occasion in life (unlike Jesus in the Bible, who only passes by once). And likewise, your decision not to follow your ambition is not a one-time event. But many people don’t follow their summons to the path and usually give their reason as something like “my good judgement”.
For example, you may well have other important duties, obligations, a need for security, enjoyable pursuits, etc. and actually, you probably feel pretty comfortable at the moment, and you may not want to rock the boat.
And your ambitions can indeed be a rough ride out of your mundane existence.
Joseph Campbell, the twentieth-century teacher, put it rather bluntly,
“a refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative” and
“your flowering world becomes a wasteland of dry stones and your life feels meaningless”, then
“all you can do is create new problems for yourself and await the gradual approach of your disintegration”
That’s a bit like Steven Covey’s ladder quote above. The outcome of doing the wrong thing is often very uncomfortable.
For example, in the old movie, The Matrix. The protagonist, Neo, literally gets a call on a mobile phone from his hero. Neo is already being sought by the secret service over similar summonses and this time he is told to run for it.
Unfortunately, Neo’s nerve fails him climbing about on the window ledge many stories up on his office building and he is arrested. Because he is still in a state of denial, just as I have been too in the past.
Only after a lot more discomforts are applied does Neo finally feel motivated enough to change his future and do what he is meant to do in the movie. He is very fortunate in this continuance.
Take a Moment to Think
When you are older and look back on your life, will you have regrets? Will you wish you had taken the path less travelled? Will the stuff and the money really have been worth it?
Whether you are rich or poor, when your time is up, you will leave it all behind.