We live in a world of epidemic busyness, of disconnection and buried truth, subjugated needs, suppressed healthy desires and unlived purpose. Most of us are living, to one degree or another, someone else’s idea or society’s conception of what we should be. Most of us lose that thread of who we are meant to be early on, in childhood. Some of us find the thread again, anyone can. I lost it as a child and gained it back close to the age of 40.
I was headed down a path of many expectations, expectations which I’d incorporated as my own. I had held on to that thread of inner knowing enough to know I was on the wrong path, even though I didn’t know what the “right” one was. I had been treading up a steep path–and had done it well by all outward appearances–to becoming a practicing medical doctor. I walked the straight and narrow, disciplined line and maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout high school and college then threw myself into the study of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine. I interviewed for residencies. I was offered a position outside of “The Match”–and I said No. To the shock of pretty much everyone I knew, I said NO to being a practicing MD.
It was terrifying to take a leap from the known and expected into the unknown without a concrete explanation or plan, armed only with the knowledge residing deep down inside that my soul would die if I chose to stay on the prescribed, expected course. To summarize something Krishna said, if we are following our own inspiration, the thing that inspires us, versus something we’re good at but doesn’t inspire us, then we living our purpose and the world is better off for it.
You can find direction, even after years of feeling lost, of wondering “Is there something more than this?” I don’t think being driven necessarily made it easier for me to find the way I needed to go–if anything, I was driving so hard down that road that once I got off, it made it difficult to see other routes. I wandered around in the jungle until I decided to make my own way out. Now I feel that my life has a lot of inner purpose and meaning. And it doesn’t matter to me if someone else doesn’t get it or thinks it doesn’t have much impact. It does for me and that carries over to the people who are affected by what I do. I love my work and friends and community, I care deeply about what I do and I feel that I make a significant difference in people’s lives. I happen to be a mother to two boys and am a better parent to them because I feel purposeful. I’m extremely grateful to have found this in my life and even though the specifics may change, I know that I can and will continue to live this way. It didn’t come without massive struggle and soul-searching, heartache and feeling utterly lost some of that time. I believe that for most of us, by definition, it will take endurance and perseverance through storms, deciding to change and grow from them and to keep on growing, in order to come into a meaningful, purpose-filled life. And that purpose doesn’t need to be Nobel Prize-winning or splashy, famously known purpose–it’s what makes you feel purposeful, and that is huge.
And, in the words of Mary Oliver:
“Who made the world?Who made the swan, and the black bear?Who made the grasshopper?This grasshopper, I mean-the one who has flung herself out of the grass,the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.I do know how to pay attention, how to fall downinto the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,which is what I have been doing all day.Tell me, what else should I have done?Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?Tell me, what is it you plan to dowith your one wild and precious life?”
I don’t know what you’ll discover while we’re in Ireland. Maybe you’ll find the thread of your life’s purpose. Maybe you’ve found it already but need a rejuvenating break in the quiet, serene, and magical, living wonder that is Ireland. Maybe you’ll make peace with and forgive yourself, or someone else from afar. I don’t know what type of particular inspiration you will find here, but I am confident you will come back changed. Whether you believe in another world after or before this or things unseen, Ireland is a “thin place.” This has meant a place where the veil between this world we live in and “the next” is very thin. And that could be, but whether it is or not, I see it as a thin place between what exists now and the imagination, who we are or are allowing ourselves to be and who we can become.
It is my heartfelt motivation to share with you this magical, fertile container so that you can grow what you wish or need, and to see all of us moved by the wonder and awe of this very special place that can’t be put into words.