Life Lessons from Second Wedding

I have been separated/divorced for almost four years now and I honestly did not think I would ever remarry.  I also believed I would never return to school.  Lesson #1:  Never say never.

I guess you can say that I have a renewed sense of optimism, an interest in evolving and adapting, and a willingness to explore areas that were previously closed to me.  In hindsight, I believe I was pretty closed down and didn’t know it.  This brings me to Lesson #2:  we can’t know what we don’t know (profound, I know).   It seems to be one of those cruel ironies about oneself:  if you’re closed down you don’t know you’re closed down, nor are you likely to want to hear it from others.   Other truisms of this nature:  If you have a blind spot, you can’t see your blind spot.   If you’re humble, you won’t ever believe you’re humble.  Strangely, I enjoy the mystery that we are to ourselves.  It lends a sense of discovery of the person we know better than anyone!  That very observation means that we should not be too wedded to who we believe we are.  We can never really know ourselves 100% and that is, in many ways, a good thing.  Therefore, being willing to alter your self-perception can be a powerful growth opportunity.

Lesson #3:   we can never know or control our future.  Though I have spent many, many years trying to control my present and future, I know now that such efforts are futile and actually counter-productive.  I have enough ego to need to feel like a smart and competent person, but my imagination is nowhere near as good as reality often actually turns out to be.  Getting remarried at my age after believing it would never happen is the perfect example of my inability to imagine something really amazing.  Another truism:  not trying to control one’s future actually results in a better outcome.  If I had tried to enact the I’m-not-remarrying future, then I would have missed the opportunity to deepen and formalize our amazing relationship.  Letting go of control means being more adaptable and responsive to one’s reality.  Doesn’t that make sense?

Speaking of control, that brings us to Lesson #4:  I can’t please everyone.  Nor should I try.  So this wedding is as minimalist as it gets without actually just eloping.  We still managed to upset someone in the process, and possibly untold number of others. I have given up trying to live my life to please others while sacrificing my own peace of mind or authenticity.  Frankly, I’m not that good at knowing what others want/expect, so I’m going to upset them either way.   Or I’m not.  I think people at this stage of life don’t tend to personalize decisions as much as they did when we were in our 20’s.  Thank goodness.

So thank you world and universe for helping me learn these important lessons, at last.  I don’t regret making the mistakes and missteps that I have made over the last half century.  Lesson #Final:  those mistakes have made me wiser.   Those lessons have also imparted into me a passion and desire to share that hard-earned wisdom with others so that they may learn from my mistakes.  Go forth in peace, Namaste.

(I hope I look this pretty on my wedding day!) Photo credit:  tonyconigliophoto.com

(I hope I look this pretty on my wedding day!) Photo credit: tonyconigliophoto.com

Authentic Purpose

Why are you here?

This is neither an existential question, nor an accusation that you’re in the wrong place.  Rather, I’m asking what unique imprint you are here to make on your corner of the world.

I think this is a tough question for most people to answer unless they have taken the time to really consider this.  If you’ve already figured this out, then you’re likely to be able to answer quickly and with conviction.    If you’ve done this exercise in a manner that reflects what you think others want you to do or believe, your response may lack passion or certainty.  At my age I wouldn’t even be able to remember what I’m supposed to say if my mission were not my own.

I’ve had the honor of working through this process with a few people now and I’ve come to the conclusion that most people have an authentic purpose, but it takes some effort to elicit it.  It’s in there somewhere.  It’s unique to that person, since everyone’s mission sounds different.  Each person, upon discovery, seemed to feel that when the mission was articulated ‘just right’, it rang true to them.   Each mission also applied to their whole life, not just their personal or professional life.  For the mission to be authentic, it must apply to that person in all their usual contexts and roles.

So far, each mission connected that person to the service of humanity in some manner.  I don’t suppose that will necessarily be true for everyone, as some people’s mission might be to save the dolphin or a rare tree, but there may still be an element of service to humanity inherent in those goals as well.

Why does the authentic purpose matter?  To have well-being and flourish, according to positive psychology, we need to live a virtuous life.  But a virtuous life with no purpose, or the wrong purpose, will not help us feel very fulfilled.  I believe our authentic purpose is essential to help guide us to life satisfaction and success.  Our authentic purpose fills our cup, energizes us, and provides direction to our lives.

My authentic purpose is to use active love (being involved and doing the right thing for people) to help others become the best possible versions of themselves.  One way I express my mission is by writing this blog each week.  My mission has given me the fuel to have continued this blog for over 200 entries over a 14 month period, and to return to school full time on top of my day job.   It’s driving my personal and professional life, and I feel like I’m finally living my life authentically and in service of what I’m here to do.

What is your authentic purpose and how do you direct that mission?  If you haven’t identified it yet, shouldn’t you?