The Mother of all Questions

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Why am I here? AKA: What is the meaning of life? Or more accurately, what is the meaning of MY life? We ask these questions in times of despair or great change, or half-heartedly after a few too many adult beverages. They’ve been addressed in blogs all over the internet and in comic strips. The subject has been gone over and run through by everyone from Aristotle to Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

But the best rephrasing of the concept appeared to me the other day courtesy of author Geneen Roth on her Facebook page:

“What do you think your ‘job description’ is here on earth?  What do you think you were put here to do, be, know, communicate?”

Job description. Hmm. Never looked at it that way. When you put it in that 21-century, human term, suddenly it feels more accessible.  Like if you thought about it enough, you could actually find the answer.

Personally, I think purpose is pretty fluid.  There’s a broad, general description…kind of like within Human Resources there are many people with different titles and assigned duties, as well as “other duties as assigned.”

I wanted to answer to Geneen’s question, and struggled to keep it to a length appropriate for the Comment box. Fifty-eight people answered – ranging from “I have no idea” to finding their personal gifts to understanding what their gifts are but being unsure how to use them.

My answer:  “I feel more and more that I’m here as a cosmic tour guide or cruise director, showing people where to go, helping them enjoy their time, and wave as they leave happier than when I first met them. I know that sounds weird, but I just think that my job is to make people feel happier and better.”

I did laugh at myself then, because I never pictured myself as Julie from The Love Boat. I’ve got a decent sarcastic streak that would get me thrown overboard on most ships and I don’t put up with nonsense and have limited tolerance for whinging.

But God knows, there’s plenty of fear, sorrow, tension, and anger to go around these days.  I’m not cheerfully pretending it doesn’t exist. I receive daily reminders of how frustrating things can be.

I’d rather be part of the solution than part of the problem.

So, what am I here to do? Whatever God needs me to do. I listen to my spirit and if it burns a little brighter at an idea, then I go do it.  He needs me to be the best mom I can be – not über-mom, just the best I can be.  He needs me to be solid and present for the people in my life.  Writing is a passion and I believe it factors into all this somehow, but it’s a work in progress.

What am I here to be? In practical terms? I’m not sure. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  Job titles, I have: freelance editor and writer,  meeting coordinator, co-chairperson, part time instructor, account manager in training.  If I capitalize it – what am I here to Be? – I’d have to defer to my friend Catherine, my BFF from high school and practitioner of healing arts in California.  She believes I’m here to be a healer. Which I think is another way of saying “a good listener,” “a healthy support system,” “an understanding friend,” “a different way of seeing things.”

What am I here to know? That’s probably the toughest part of the question for me to answer. At different times in my life, I’ve either voluntarily or involuntarily looked back down the road I’ve just traveled, and I’ve been able to put together pieces. Little bits of information and knowledge and experience that, over time, become wisdom.  I’m sure it will come in handy at some point.

What am I here to communicate? Remembering that communication is a two-way street – you have to listen and understand as well as talk – I will use my sufficient store of knowledge to, well, do what I can.  I don’t know it all, and I may not have the best answer at times. Often, I just listen to my gut.

My eyes and ears tell me life is difficult and full of things that just don’t make sense, and full of people who are in it for themselves. My gut tells me choosing to live in optimism, with enthusiasm, with gratitude,  going where the spirit moves me is a more authentic and wholehearted – and ultimately simpler – way to live.

What’s your job description? What does your resumé look like so far?


17 thoughts on “The Mother of all Questions

  1. Elizabeth,
    You would not believe how much this postings has influenced me. I am still, to this day, trying to post a reply. I suppose it’s because it is not something that can be easily written about. I think the fact that it has left me thinking says alot in and of itself.
    MMmmmmm …. !!!! ~~~~ : – )

  2. Hi Elizabeth,
    Thank you for this. It is pretty amazing to me – I share a feeling of a similar purpose. Part of my journey is trying to figure out how I actually do that as it is the thing that feels most authentic to me. It is why I went into professional development working with educators with my approach always being focused on connecting, relationships and building community. That is my mantra! I have been searching for other ways to provide that to others…
    Your post and similar “job title” reminds me also of a book by Peter Reynolds called The North Star. It is written as a “children’s book” so to speak but I have given several copies of it to adults and have a signed copy myself. It is about following your own path and then helping others do the same.
    You recently registered on our site – and I need to tell you that we had to strip it down and rebuild it so *please* re-register as we would love to have you be a part of our community there. I would be honored if you might be a contributor as well! That project is about helping others on their journey toward authenticity and finding joy in that. We want to bring people together who have that same mission! Even this post – we would love to feature it there and help people find their way to you and your healing! 🙂 The site is finally in place as we want it to be…

    Have a great day! Thank you for your words.

    • Hi, Liane!

      You know, I have to confess that when I set out of “officially” be a writer, it was with fiction in mind – I wanted to be the next Sue Grafton or Tony Hillerman or Laurie R. King and write best selling mystery novels. But the more I struggle with the process, and the more I recognize the relative ease with which I can help others with their own writing, I’ve come to realize that maybe I’m here to help someone else write something epic.

      And if I ever get my awesome mystery novels completed (or my epic romance novels for that matter!), that’s all good too…but I’ve found that I’m better at helping others become their best, so I edit.

      Non-fiction – essay, memoir, spirituality and faith – all seem to be where my creativity is at the moment too…and I’ll just roll with that! Having experienced the healing power of faith first hand, I know it’s possible if, like Catherine said, you have the awareness…and it really is amazing grace. Or, as I sometimes say, “It’s amazing, Grace!”

      I will absolutely re-register at Walkabout Chronicles and I’d be honored to contribute! Thank you for asking!

  3. Catherine Linard says:

    First of all, I don’t “believe” you are here to be a healer, I KNOW IT! Secondly, I think you’re pretty close on your description: a healer is basically one who helps any who are WILLING (the first and thus most important key to Self-awareness, the reason we are all here), to find and thus leave this world with more Love/Peace/Joy than that with which they entered it (typically done by finding it first for yourself!). Thirdly, the purpose is single-fold; only the possible paths you take to it are infinite. Lastly, thanks for the nod, BFF, and for all the healing work you do whether you recognize it or not!!! XO

    • I guess I’m still getting used to the notion of “healer.” 🙂 Talk about infinite paths…it makes me laugh to look backward from where we are NOW to, say, 1986. Who’d have thought? xo, my friend!

    • Hi, Robin – thanks for stopping by! How do you think this life prepares us for the next one in heaven? I’d really like to know your thoughts.


      • robind333 says:

        I know many of us struggle with what our gift, on earth, truly are. Maybe God allows those who know what there gift are and how to use them to shine like a star in heaven after they pass, maybe to help instruct others in heaven or on earth . And for those who didn’t know or understand there gift, on earth, maybe they will be taught how to use it for God’s glory. Just my thoughts….Thank you Elizabeth

  4. This reminds me of the time I took that Landmark Forum course and at one point they were talking about our purpose in life. I always used to think that my “purpose” would be something hard…something I’d have to struggle to figure out…something that would definitely not come easily to me. It would require great sacrifice and it would probably not be fun, because how can something noble, like one’s life purpose, be fun??

    I can’t remember how I finally came to it, but I realized that the reason I am here is to love myself and others…and that they way I do that is via relating and connecting.

  5. T says:

    It is an interesting way to reword our “calling in life”. I like it. It was like Geneen was feeling the vibes around me that week when she posted that question, and I’ve been thinking about it even more since.

    I think back to when I was a kid – before my emotions had been chipped on too much. I knew I wanted to help people. Like you, I loved/love making people happy – smile, laugh and look at their lives in a way they hadn’t seen before. I used to say I’d be a counselor when I grew up. As I grew up tables turned and I was left feeling like I was the one in need of a counselor!

    Of course now, something deep inside me just knows this is all about to be revealed to me. THIS has been what the journey was about, not the size of my waist.

    ((((Thanks Liz))))

    • T, always remember what rocks your world! It might not lead you directly to the answer, but it might lead you to the next step toward it. Hugs back at you! 🙂

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