Finding life’s purpose

“The road of life is strewn with the bodies of promising people. People who show promise, yet lack the confidence to act. People who make promises they are unable to keep. People who promise to do tomorrow what they could do today. Promising young stars, athletes, entrepreneurs who wait for promises to come true. Promise without a goal and a plan is like a barren cow. You know what she could do if she could do it, but she can’t. Turn your promise into a plan. Make no promise for tomorrow if you are able to keep it today. And if someone calls you promising, know that you are not doing enough today.” – Iyanla Vanzant

This quote seems to apply directly to me. For over a year, I have been struggling to find my purpose in life – looking back, I feel I have showed promise and interest in many areas, but the paths I have taken were very different. My choices seem to have no connection. I cannot find a common thread in life.

During my schooldays, I used to participate in painting contests and win prizes – It is now 8 years since I stopped painting publicly. When early acquaintances and relatives still ask me if I paint these days, their question surprises me. When I tell them I have stopped, they shake their heads and tell me I should get back because I used to paint so well in the old days. A few months ago, I decided to start painting again, learn water color techniques from the net and practice them on a drawing pad that nobody except SR would see. I have made no more than 3 paintings in 6 months.

When I was 16, I won the national Balsree award for excellence in creative writing. I was invited to the Rashtrapathi Bhavan and received the award from the then-president Dr Abdul Kalam. This was a great honor and I was felicitated by many associations back home in Trivandrum. It was during this time that my articles began to get published in Children’s World magazine and The Indian Express. People expected miracles from me – the talented writer who would win many more accolades and publish books. It is 10 years since I won the award – and where am I? I still get published in the odd newspaper and magazine. But where are the stories? Where is my novel? I see sparks inside my head, fleeting thoughts and ideas that I am too lazy to pen down. I average one – at the most, two – stories a year. And even if a publisher were to be interested in my work, I do not have a portfolio to show him/her! This blog is an attempt to revamp my writing – a place where I will put down the thoughts that come to my head. A place that will serve as the fertile ground from which my books will spring. I also joined a writers club last year. For the first few months, I attended every Saturday afternoon session without fail. But sadly, I have been lax here too lately. My writing is as sporadic as ever.

I was considered a cheerful, optimistic person with a sense of humor. Someone who is conscientious and reliable. Someone who has ideas, takes up ownership and executes projects with efficiency and flair. I remember a beloved psychologist professor telling me some time in 2010, “I need you for this project because I need someone with vision.” But today, I feel I have fallen short of expectations – of myself and my colleagues. I came in with great promise, but have fallen by the wayside somewhere. I feel no energy, no excitement, when I think about work. There are, of course, ideas and thoughts. But they are sparks that fizz and go out. I seem unable to muster the energy to take them up and see them through.

On the personal front, my goal sheet is like the Guinness Book of Records not yet made. The things I do give me little pleasure, and the ones I have not yet managed to do seem to weigh me down. A more disciplined lifestyle – a super goal with many facets – sums up this list, but I have not ticked off even one of the smaller goals under this.

This blog was not written in a fit of depression – it is part of an exercise in self-introspection. I realize that my fundamental problem is the lack of a purpose in life. Nothing moves me strongly enough to act – therefore, I see no color, no excitement in life. Therefore, I remain sunk in lethargy. 

A survey I took recently told me that I place far too much importance on extrinsic goals – money and recognition – than on intrinsic ones – self-acceptance, relationships and social consciousness. I think I know why – if I dissect my extrinsic goals of financial stability and recognition, I will discover that a desire for personal satisfaction lies underneath. I don’t want to be rich – I just want to be rich enough to do the things I want to do. I do not crave recognition of my self; rather, I want to be recognized for my work. I have some internal measures of success and happiness – I want to meet them.

A Facebook friend of a sunny disposition and a very broad-minded, generous outlook on life puts up status updates and shares quotes that are cheering and heart-warming. She talks about being joyful and thankful just because you wake up to another day; to be grateful for the small and big blessings that you have been given and to strive to deserve them; to do your best everyday to make a difference in someone else’s life… 

In some of my bleak, black moods, I have read these updates and wondered irritably how anyone could be so infernally cheerful. I have even quarreled with SR for laughing too much! But I want to shake myself out of this cloud of gloom.

I would like nothing better than to emerge again from my cocoon as a butterfly as vibrant and free as before – perhaps of different colors and tastes, but as beautiful nevertheless, and as happy to soar into this world each day.

My efforts start today. 🙂

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