What happens when we go back to the regular world after the commotion dies down? It’s not hard to recall just a short while ago when we were mostly concerned about work and home and fitting in just the right amount of playtime. Now, our work might be peppered with worry or we may not have work at all.
For that reason, I think it’s important that we remember the humdrum of our world before this global change and take a moment in silence to reshape our vision of it. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Let’s take a trip down a not-so-distant memory lane...
The recollection of the common stresses that chip at you through the day. The feeling of how they erode the essence of why you stepped out the door in the first place. And, when you think of it, why did you step out of the door at all? The morning coffee may have provided the jittery jumpstart, but it was more like a panicky shuffle than a march of intention.
Before all this, when was the last time you walked with intention?
Outside your door, you find traffic and agitation. While making a paycheck, you wonder what difference it makes other than paying for the caffeinated boost to get here and the quick meals that you forget to relish. The job itself may be helpful and somewhat hopeful, but like a great machine, it seems larger – much larger than you.
As a humble gear, you grind into place and turn with the other cogs to follow the motions of the mechanical device to which you’ve dedicated the larger portion of your life. It’s the machine. I’m the gear. I do the job. I get paid. I go home. It’s got to make some kind of difference, right? Right...?
You want to make an impact, but you also want to escape.
Yes, there are the occasional pleasantries – little joys that seem to make the day seem worthwhile. There are benefits to having the means to enjoy a few evenings treating yourself. (There’s always chocolate.) But, there is a different kind of nourishment that isn’t met when you have lost a sense of alignment with your work. And, when work has lost alignment with the goals of society.
The question hits you, “What is the purpose of what I do?”
I’m just a banker. I’m just a cook. I work retail. I’m a salesman. Who the hell cares? These are the monikers that we use to give ourselves an identity. I am… insert your job title here. Think about that phrase for a moment, “I am.” As if the work you do speaks for the entirety of your sense of self.
“Who am I?” you ask.
The world is going to hell, and I’m weaving hand baskets for a living. At least we’ll all go down in quality wicker even if it makes us all basketcases. (Pun intended.) The spiritual crisis when our sense of values meet the method that we produce our living far too often feels like a loss of identity.
And, it is. Not always because the work is wrong nor the manner in which we produce it, but because we fail to see the expression of our core selves speaking purely through the work we do. And, that is where our purpose is found.
So, how do you react?
Privately you might read a few books on spirituality and religion – perhaps a clever blog. With a bit of meditation, a touch of kundalini, and a dabble of reiki – you might feel better. “I’m doing something!” But, isn’t that simply adding a new title to shift your sense of identity?
Regardless of the profession, you still have to step outside the door and face the world. There is still action to be taken even if the work seems right. When the world seems to be in flux and on the brink of insanity, it makes everything feel like a drop in the bucket. And, shit, the world really does seem like it’s coming apart at the seams.
If you listen to the media, we are always flirting with global catastrophe. Whether there’s any truth in the headlines or if it’s just a means to advertise the products that other worker-bee machines grind together to make us feel better about the infernal decay of society, remains to be seen.
Take a breath.
Stop trying to fix the world. Stop thinking about the things you do and ask yourself who you are. It’s not a question that can be taken lightly because the answer eludes gurus and grunts alike. But, it is the reason we step outside the door every day. It is the great work. And, the things we “do” are the methods we use to feel out the connection of “I” to “other” and find the degrees of separation blurred in the process.
The world may burn around you and you will still see the flames and feel their heat. The job may bore you but where does that boredom come from – you or that? All of that sensation, all the wild worries and the fears about the state of affairs, come from your perceptions. Your perceptions are not you. They are the veil that we peer through – a warped lens that distorts the reality of our life’s mission.
What if we let go of those perceptions?
All the moments that pass throughout the day chipping away at you are truly eroding the parts of your identity that are false. This is where true work begins. Everything we perceive is a reflection of the self and everything we do is an expression of that self. The discordant harmony between action and reaction slowly become sweeter tones when we meet our daily work with a sense of alignment.
This happens when you do the real work, the work of self-awareness.
In time, outward and inward become interwoven in a dance that allows the flow of reality to move through us and each thing that we touch has intention. It is with this realization that we find purpose in washing dishes or drafting paperwork. Disagreement becomes the substance of growth and not disorder.
And, here is where the revolution begins. We can stop seeking to change the world and repair the broken systems and realize that understanding the depth of ourselves does change the world and fix the broken systems.
Understanding the essence of yourself changes the way you interact with everything. The job you hate suddenly makes sense and you either step in with renewed passion or realize it was wrong all along. The conversations between friends, coworkers, and lovers have a warmer and kinder (albeit unapologetic) honesty that allows you to step fully into your being.
I say this with experience. Not only for myself but for the numerous people that have asked me to help them understand their problems. But, instead of seeking the answer to a problem we seek the answer that lies in the self. There is not one question that isn’t answered by seeking an understanding of who you are. And, when that realization is made, mountains are moved.
Know yourself and you know the universe because they are one and the same.