I have learned that there is a difference between being grateful in one’s life (which is to recognise and appreciate value) and finding meaning & having a purpose. You can be grateful for anythng (your children, your job, your relationships, nature, etc) but it doesn’t nesessarily mean that your life has a purpose or a value. We create meaning and purpose in our lives to make us feel valuable. Take away meaning and purpose and all you’re left with is gratefulness.
For me, everything that once gave my life meaning and purpose are gone. Do not, even for a minute, think this post is an exercise in self-pity. I do not feel sorry for myself in the least nor do I crave sympathy. I accept life, with all it’s ups and downs. However, my life has changed dramatically in the past 5 yrs, which is why I am now contemplating what my new life will hold. I am sure your life is full of changes too, and maybe you will be able to relate to the changes I have experienced.
Yes, I am still grateful for all that I have and hopeful about my future, but my life lacks the meaning and purpose it had over the course of a lifetime (maybe this is true for you as well). My siblings are all grown, my 36 yr relationship with my husband is over, my children are all grown and off on their own, I lost the job I had for 25 yrs, the business which I’d worked hard to build for 15 yrs is gone, my fianancial security (past, present and future) is gone, the things I owned are gone, and I buried my youngest son and my father. These are all the things which I had built decades of my life around. The relationships were the meaning and purpose in my life. Now those relatiosnhips either do not exist anymore or they have changed dramatically. I am struggling to find meaning in this new life I have, one which does not need me as devoted mother, wife, teacher, entrepreneur, nurturer and caretaker. I’m not sure how to redefine my identity and I am not sure if I can. These roles I took on in my life were not completely ones I’d chosen (for example, I was born the oldest girl in my family, and I was pregnant when I got married at 18). I did not have to work to create meaning in my life, it was handed to me and I cherished my roles. There were responsibilities which shaped and molded my life. Now these responsibilities are over. For the first time in my life I am not responsible to anyone or anything or for anyone or anything.
I hope that there is a more fulfilling, meaningful life on the horizon for me, just docked and waiting like a ship ready to sail. I can not imagine what cargo this ship will carry. I do not know when or where it is docked but I feel that it waits for me, just as a ship waits for all of us. I hope and I pray that my eyes, my mind, and my soul are open to all that life has in store for me. Of course, I will work hard to create a life I enjoy, but a big part of what I enjoy about life is the unexpected and the instability of it all. I mean, we can chart our course, but the ocean of life creates unpredictable storms and waves. Cherish and savor life, with all it’s unexpected twists and turns, for they challenge us in ways we could never plan and they create meaning and purpose in unique ways. I think I am learning my greatest lesson right now, which is to be patient and be still and allow life to unfold, and bring with it a natural churning of meaningful energy. The meaning and purpose will be revealed.
And on that last thought I will put down my philosophers pen and pick up my paint brush, for the garage door is waiting for a coat of paint.
Sharen Wendy Robertson owns the copyright to all posts on this Blog.