“If you don’t know your purpose, follow your passion, and it will lead you there.”
When I recently read this statement, it resonated with me on the surface, but underneath I detected a discomfort, almost a kind of envy. I thought, “I wish I could say that…”
Since authenticity is the key to finding our life’s purpose, I had to accept that my path to learn my purpose had not been a thrilling adventure filled with the pursuit of my passions. Instead, mine had led me along a rocky track of tragedies and crises.
The first stone that catapulted me towards my purpose was the tragic death of my youngest brother. He was only 24 when he died in a diving accident. His girlfriend was pregnant with their son. I had just discovered that I was pregnant with my youngest daughter, his niece. Although his life was cut short, he had followed his heart and become an adventurer. He had travelled through the Sahara desert, cycled around West Africa, and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. His legacy for me was to live my life following my heart.
The second stumbling block on my path was my own professional career. I had two degrees in subjects in which I was interested, and although I managed to combine them relatively successfully in my work, my heart wasn’t fully in either. I felt underwhelmed and restless. I had a strong sense that there was much more inside me – that I had something different and unique to offer to the world. The continuous tension resulting from this inner conflict kept pushing me forward, urging me to keep searching, and to dig deeper, never settling for a life of mediocrity.
The third and most massive boulder on my path was a dysfunctional relationship pattern. Having studied these patterns, I once stated that mine “looks as if my mother was a battered woman and my father an alcoholic.”
My ‘problem’ was that I came from a perfectly functional middle class family. My parents had a strong bond and lived a long, interesting and happy life together. My four brothers all seemed to be in reasonably good relationships. I was the odd one out. For whatever reason I just couldn’t get my act together. What was wrong with me?
I stumbled from one unhappy relationship to the next and eventually jumped from the proverbial frying pan into the fire. My ‘final act’ in this drama was a three-year intermezzo with a guy who turned out to be a bit of a psychopath. He threatened to kill both me, and my children and managed to relieve me of most of my worldly possessions. Against the backdrop of my sheltered middle class upbringing this was all very scary. It was my closest encounter with violence. I felt like I had lost my way, and through a series of unfortunate events I had gotten caught up in a weird psycho-thriller.
In desperation I hurled myself out of the nightmarish scene, shaken and horrified. It woke me up in a big way. Having been pushed beyond my edges, I was determined to learn everything I needed to learn from the experience.
In the wake of my drama I was faced with my deepest fears, shame, and guilt. All the inner monsters came out at once and growled at me. The funny thing was, when they came I wasn’t scared anymore. I had known worse. I was ready to look at them. The massive boulder on my path had bowled me over and transformed me into a much stronger version of myself.
It took a couple of years to recover from my traumatic experience. During this time I encountered an above average number of ‘miracles’ and received a tremendous amount of help from the universe.
Towards the end of my convalescence, my treasure fell into my lap. It came as a surprise and I felt truly humbled. The gift came in the form of a profound and complex inspiration. It was so complex and profound, that I couldn’t fully understand it immediately. It took me a further 17 years to decipher and unravel my encrypted treasure. In retrospective I can see that my rocky track has provided me with a goldmine of precious raw materials.