Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ready, aim, fire.

Lately I have been compelled by two things about which I am just slightly embarrassed: my horoscope and a personal development website. Let's talk about the former first, because it's worse in the grand scheme of hooha. I get an email horoscope every day from, likely because I signed up for it while I was dinking around in my internet dating days and trying to answer life's great questions in some way other than facing reality. I'm sure I have excused my reasons for enjoying tarot readings and horoscopes in some earlier entry, but I'll recap: anything that provokes contemplation is okay by me, as long as people realize it ain't a prescription.

Here are the things I have liked the most in my astrological missives: A) shoot an arrow and then follow it and in light of that, B) the universe is a safe and friendly place. (I know, only an American would think that.)

The personal development website is also something I have linked before, If you are a regular reader chez moi, you possibly followed the link to his borderline crazy account of getting two degrees in three semesters, and maybe you surfed around the site, or maybe not. I'd surf around the site if I were you. I mean unless you're not really interested in personal friggin growth like I am.

So last week I did one of the exercises Pavlina recommends in How to discover your life purpose in about 20 minutes. It is essentially a brainstorming exercise that you keep doing until one of your answers to the question "what is my true purpose in life" makes you cry. For an emotional reactor and garbage writer like me, this is a totally workable method and what I came up with wasn't a total surprise, but I sort of wasn't expecting it, either.

I don't think I have a lot of the usual hangups about purpose, especially in the ways that "purpose" and "career path" are often confounded in people's minds. But neither have I, historically, had a particularly strong sense of purpose other than the generic ones about love your friends and family and be nice to people and do a good job, all of which are valid. I've never really sat down and imagined my ideal life so that I can start acting in ways that will manifest my vision. I'm still not really sure what that ideal life looks like--and I'm still not really sure that imagining your ideal life is even a valuable exercise, because of that thing about how focusing on your ideal life prevents you from actually experiencing the life you're currently living.

Anyway, with all of this at the back, I brainstormed. And a few themes kept coming up:
1. Meaningful work. I know I'm not unique in this, but I am not a jobby-job person who is content to put in 40 hours in order to have money to do the things I am actually interested in doing. Real life does not begin at 5 PM and bloom into full glory on the weekends and end Monday morning.
2. An integrated life, meaning that my vocation isn't separate from my home and family life, or maybe that my purpose encompasses home and family life without making family the sole purpose. You dig? And then:
3. Mind-body work and healing. Who knew?

I also kept writing about music because that's obvious, because I have all this training and experience on top of my basic talents, but music wasn't the thing that punched my gut. What socked it to me was, ultimately, the mind-body thing. Here in all its wordy glory is the last thing on my brainstorm list:

to explore and deepen my understanding of the connection between the body and the mind, to understand that connection’s impact on my health and the health of the universe, to use that understanding to help people in some way, whether it is through helping them learn to meditate, to strengthen that connection, to draw on reserves they didn’t know they had, to unblock whatever has been blocking them, and thereby to leave this world a stronger and more compassionate place, to increase my own compassion toward others, to open myself up to more and greater experiences, to unblock myself first and foremost.

Well actually that isn't the last thing I wrote. The last thing I wrote was WHERE DO I START.

And here is where shooting an arrow is probably a good idea.


  1. My horoscope said today: Easy does it. Haha.

    This is wonderful. I was afraid to do the test because I don't trust myself to be honest. I'm afraid I'll write what I think I want to hear. Got any advice?

  2. Well first of all, dude, it's not a test. The only thing I can advise, really, is not to overthink it and to keep writing and writing and writing. Maybe start with the things you think you want to hear and strip down from there. Also, some of the comments on that entry from SP's blog--the comments from SP himself--are pretty interesting/helpful.

  3. Very excellent to come back to your blog today and find this inspiration. So, thank you for that.

    AND, it is so funny that you picked up my Samsonite Fashionaire telegram on my flickr account, because it was totally a message for you! As I was walking into the airport, I momentarily had an unrealistic hope that you would be arriving, like for a conference or something, at LAX, so that you could share in the glory of the Fashionaire. I was confident that I would recognize you.

  4. Great post. I have been somewhat lazily meandering around the question of life purpose myself this year. Lazily because my life's working in ways I really dig these days and am kinda watching it unfold but repeatedly arriving at the thought, "this is good. hmm. i wonder how i could make it better." with the strong suspicion, of course, that adding a healthy dose of purpose could make something really big materialize. we'll see. what struck me about your post, however, were two things:

    1. You may want to check out the September O magazine article "Your Brilliant (Next) Career... and How to Find It" It's not so so job-focused as purpose-identifying, complete with very concrete questions that may pick up where your writing exercise left off (Also the article and quiz on schemas is worth a spin. Interesting.)

    2. The mind-body connection. I went to massage therapy school last year for this very reason. I never intended to use it as a means for money, but wanted to learn all of the other stuff that comes along with holistic massage, in addition to massage itself. I left KNOWING how some things can only be dealt with on a physical level (muscle memory/body memory) and not mental--and the ways the body and mind are inexorably tied. So fascinating. Massage therapy school and doing massage is a pretty big entry point for a lot of people interested in healing. Could be a thing to consider? Happy to share some info/insights if interested.

    Otherwise, apologies for the super long comment. You just picked up some things pretty fresh on my mind. Hope the suggestions help!


  5. Thanks Emily--that's good info and II always appreciate a super-long comment. I don't think massage school is for me, though the anatomy and bodywork portion appeals to me. I think I'm more interested in movement-based therapies because they more easily complement teaching voice, which I'm already doing. And I think voice teaching is the most obvious framework for this other stuff I want to do; I obviously just need to get more training. Step one: save some money for that purpose.