Two True Things

Last night I was awake at 3 a.m. thinking about the meaning of life.

Yep, the party never stops at my place. 🙂

I’m guessing you’ve laid awake at night pondering the same thing. Why am I here? What’s my life about?

Two True Things

The path starts here.

I believe two things are true:

1.We’re here on the planet to serve others and to make the world a better place.

2. We’re meant to follow our passions in pursuit of something larger than ourselves.

I didn’t always understand this. I used to be more live-for-the-moment, and couldn’t see how my life meant anything in the bigger picture. I thought as long as I was a “good person” – doing no harm, basically – then that was all I was meant for.

Which is sort of sad, don’t you think?

I was going along, working and volunteering and creating. Things were interesting and fun.

But it always felt a bit ephemeral. In other words, when I died, what would be left? Of course, some people would be sad and miss me and my work, but beyond that, I wasn’t sure. It didn’t feel like enough considering how much time and energy I would have spent on the planet.

And then I had an accident and almost died. Thanks for the message, universe! I saw that I needed to start living my way to the answers, and that’s when my motto became: Life is short, so don’t wait.

I’m guessing you’ve had this conversation with yourself about the meaning of life, as well. That’s why the idea of a hero’s journey resonates with you – because deep down you know you could be doing more.

(To be clear, by “more” I don’t mean I think you should be working harder or longer. I mean more impact, more soul satisfaction, and more joy.)

We’ll talk about this in more detail later on, but I want to start by sharing a favorite quote from poet Mary Oliver:

“What is it you plan to do with this one wild and precious life?”

What do you think?

We both know that not only are you a good person, you’ve already done plenty of great stuff in your life. You’ve made a positive impact on those around you just by being your awesome self.

Or maybe you’re clear on your purpose, that something larger you’re meant to do, but you want to take it even farther, go bigger. Be all that you can be, as the folks in the Army would say.

The world needs as much of your greatness as you can give – defined by you, and at your own pace. So how can you build on what you’ve got, and once and for all unleash your inner hero?

I’m genuinely interested, so please share what you’re thinking in the comments below, or email me if you don’t want to go public with it. Or, maybe over brunch this weekend you can ponder the question with a mimosa and a friend. Which is a lot more fun than the 3 a.m. wake-up. 🙂 

P.S. These last couple posts have been long, and I’ll try to go shorter in the future. 

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14 Comments

  1. Lynda March 16, 2017 at 8:29 am #

    Deerest Amiga Deonne,
    As i read your words, tears startes streaming down my face because you reached that place deep inside me that’s been longing, yearning for something else, something more deeper, yetnot kniwing what that is….i just LOVE that photo of the green path above, its just where id like to go through….I have no answers, just an open heart for the adventure, spirit journey ahead >>>>£ove, £¥NDA<<<<

    • deonne March 16, 2017 at 8:45 am #

      Lynda – Yes! That longing is real and needs to be tended, and that’s why we’re talking about this here. As I said, the world needs your gifts, and there’s no need to know the answers now, an open heart is plenty. 🙂 (I made that image in Redwood National Park in northern California – a truly magical place.)

  2. Susan Embry March 16, 2017 at 8:32 am #

    Very good food for thought—and one of my favorite poet’s most truth-telling line!

    • deonne March 16, 2017 at 8:46 am #

      Susan – I’m so glad, and yes, Oliver is a sage, for sure. 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!

  3. Lee March 16, 2017 at 8:45 am #

    As I am far older than you my perspective will be different. Looking back on my life I can see my purpose and plan has altered and sharpened over time. As a young child I accepted each day without a lot of thought of the future. In high school I began to see options that widened my perspective. Moving away from home and going to college gave my the experiences that allowed me to see different types of people, ideas and options than I’d seen before. Early career and married life brought a more narrow focus again – establishing a career and raising a family. Though my focus narrowed, it sharpened greatly. Challenges pushed me to be strong, learn more and persevere.
    Now that kids are raised and on their own and I am retired I have the luxury of seeing other countries and some leisure in my life. I choose to give back to a community and country that I love and focus my volunteering on the children who were part of my career. I get to be Grandma to a wonderful boy and help him expand his view of the world as he travels with us. Life 💕
    See, I can ramble more than you!

    • deonne March 16, 2017 at 8:57 am #

      Lee – Your rambles are more than welcome here. 🙂 Thank you for this recap of how it’s gone for you! Challenges along the way and a sharpened focus make for wisdom and clear purpose, so bravo. It makes sense that you’d be giving back in those ways, and as I’ve said many times, you were a profound influence on me as a girl, so even then your reach was tremendous. And it’s beautiful to see you now so settled and yet so expansive. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  4. Emilie Vardaman March 16, 2017 at 9:05 am #

    I love the Mary Oliver quote too. And I t is always good to see it again, to feel its power again.

    I, too, was once in a situation in which I thought I was going to die. I did not, but it was a long, slow road to recovery. I was never 100% again, but it made me clearly understand how passionately I love my life and want to live it.

    Part of that living, for me, is travel. I am retired and don’t have lots of money for it but do what I can. I know some of my work (that paid stuff, not the other work of my life) has been good and had a huge impact on some people. I feel like I have, so far, led a good life.

    What next? I do not know. These days it is more about pleasure. I feel I have “done my time.” But pleasure includes protest when needed and holding my representatives accountable. It also includes writing and photography and looking deeper into what soul and spirituality mean to me.

    • deonne March 16, 2017 at 9:34 am #

      Emilie – Thank you for sharing your story! We’re kindred spirits, that’s for sure, but I’m so sorry to hear about your injury/illness. It really does wake a person up, doesn’t it? And I totally understand about wanting to enjoy the rest of your years – you deserve to do whatever you wish – though I’m cheered to know you’ll still fight when needed. Because the world is in a seriously dark place, and we need all the soulful fighters we can get. 🙂

  5. Delores Edwards March 16, 2017 at 9:28 am #

    I originally thought I would be involved in politics career wise. I was hired to work on Bobby Kennedy’s campaign and flew to CA to work on it there. The day I left was the day he was assassinated, June 6, 1968. It was heartbreaking and I swerved another direction in my career. In my younger years, 20s and 30s, outside my job, I volunteered with an organization that focused on unmarried young women who got pregnant while in high school. Many of those young women finished not only high school but many went on to college.At that time, the volunteer work had more meaning to me than my job. As my career was maturing in my 40s and 50s, I focused on helping people in the workplace get a job, keep a job and build a career. Then I was given the opportunity in my job to take over immigration where we hired people from all over the world for first, a Las Vegas casino company owned by a Swiss Corporation and then for a company staffing our computer engineering jobs. For the casino business, I worked with Catholic Charities to place refugees from Bosnia and Serbia primarily but also from the congo and Cuba too. The State Department awarded the casino and me recognition for our work in placing over 300 refugees in our facility. I loved working with the refugees and immigrants. They renewed my love for our country because I saw it again through their fresh hopeful eyes. I helped and worked closely with people from many different cultures, countries and races and from them I learned we are one human race. We all essentially want the same things. Working with immigrants and refugees was the most fulfilling job I had in my 44+ years of employment. That experience has given me my outlook today and I have become politically active again in retirement, working to help those who see the USA as a beacon of hope, get here. Once you know somebody, it is difficult to be prejudiced against them. Our country is in great danger right now because of the insular attitude the leader has promoted and I will fight it with all my might. I feel renewed passion for our great country and politics. I worry that we are stepping on our constitution and as a nation give lip service to our patriotism but we have become lazy in our freedoms and have forgotten what we could possibly lose.

    • deonne March 16, 2017 at 9:40 am #

      Delores! Thanks so much for sharing your impressive and inspiring story. I especially love how you’re able to look back and see what was the most satisfying – your work with refugees – and how you’re taking that now into the next phase of your life. I’m with you in your concern (that’s putting it mildly) for what’s happening in the country, and am so glad you’re fighting back with passion and vigor. Know that you have my support, that’s for sure. 🙂

  6. Sherry in MT March 16, 2017 at 10:19 am #

    I have comments but I’m going to sit and stew on them for a bit before I shoot myself in the foot! LOL
    Sherry in MT recently posted…Sadly Another TributeMy Profile

    • deonne March 16, 2017 at 10:27 am #

      Sherry – Ha! We’ll be here whenever you’re ready. 🙂

  7. MaryAnn March 16, 2017 at 3:26 pm #

    I was in this place in 2007. I sat in my office thinking “what good am I doing” that is when I chose to become a nurse,and ultimately a hospice nurse. I have learned that even leaving an impact in a small circle is just as meaningful as infamy. I have learned not to wait, and to balance making a living while making time for life. I haven’t always been good at this but more and more I have morphed my life to give more, take time for those I love, and explore this big beautiful world and all of the amazing cultures in it. I have learned forgiveness, and tolerance, and to love openly. I may not be remembered by many but those that do cross my path will remember me with kindness and a smile. Now something for you to ponder…how big is big?

  8. deonne March 16, 2017 at 5:54 pm #

    MaryAnn – Thanks for sharing your story! It sounds like you’ve got peace and balance in your life. (As much as that’s possible in the real world, ha.) I’m guessing many people will remember you with all your good works and big heart. Are you asking how big I want to take this? I’m thinking about that, and for now I’ll say I’d like to support/educate/inspire as many people who want to live meaningful, joyful lives as I possibly can. I’m aiming big, because you’re all needed now more than ever. 🙂

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