Thursday, March 03, 2016

Purpose: It's a word that takes up a lot of space

Living Your Purpose by Linda Ferguson
Purpose is an interesting kind of word. It's not a long word and almost everyone has some idea what it means. And yet it is a word that takes up a lot of space.

Try this. Think of a situation where you are part of a group that is stuck, busy or at a crossroads. Imagine the response when someone says: "What are we trying to do here?"

Now go back to the beginning of that scene and replay it. This time, the person who speaks says: "What's our purpose here?" Do you feel the difference? That's what I mean by taking up space. When we hear the word purpose, we pull back to a really wide perspective as though we are suddenly viewing ourselves from a distance. 

The fear is that if we go too far back, we are such tiny creatures that our purpose can't matter very much. If we don't go back far enough, we can't see the purpose through all the complications. Getting it exactly right works better if we let go of the metaphor of sight. That's hard to do, because we are accustomed to the association of purpose with vision.

Still, since we are only running mental simulations, it costs nothing to go back to the beginning of the scene. Only this time, you're listening to a radio.  As the scene begins, there's lots of chatter about what to do or not to do. And someone asks: "What are we trying to do here?" What do you hear next?
Does what you hear connect with any physical sensations (tension in a particular spot, movement or twitching? warmth?)?

And one more time, to the beginning of the scene. Perhaps it would help if you switched the radio station.  There's static while you tune in (old school and analog) and then you hear the familiar chaos of competing priorities and opinions. Now someone asks "What's our purpose here?" There - did you hear it? There's almost always a pause in the audio just then, and the pause in the audio is often also a pause in the physical feelings. For a moment, everything stops. And then what happens next?

One way that purpose takes up space is that it creates this quiet, this moment of calm and possibility.

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