What does it mean to me to live #OnPurpose? In my mind, answers unfold in more questions like “What if it doesn’t get any better? What if the violence, bigotry, hatred, oppression, and lack of humanity continues…or gets worse? What would I do then?” These are hard questions…seriously hard, and yet in them I find space, a breath, and the ability to step out of fear and into living more #OnPurpose. Sounds counter-intuitive, right? Stay with me.
Over the last year I’ve had awakening after awakening as I continued to remind my heart to stay open, open, open…even when it hurts, even when it feels like it’s breaking, even when I am angry, frustrated, sad, grieving, and afraid. And in sticking with those feelings, in holding them close (instead of pushing them away), in stepping in front of the veil of shame and sharing my own experiences with sexual violence, internalized oppression, betrayal, and heartbreak with others, I’ve learned that I have the power to live in both my strength and my struggle.
Perhaps it was Pema Chödrön’s words goading me on back in March with a question that took my breath away:
Live and die in fear?! Never! So, the choice becomes clear...To me, living #OnPurpose is growing up and relating to life directly, no longer reduced to living in the false dichotomies of “either/or” but living purposefully in the “both/and” that coexist in both my strength and my struggle.
And, seriously…what if it doesn’t get any better? What do I choose then? I can purposefully live into Jeffrey Duncan-Andrade’s construct of Socratic hope and “painfully examine our lives and actions within an unjust society and to share the sensibility that pain may pave the path to justice.” I can muster the “courage to pursue the painful path” and live purposefully and consciously into all of the complexity, beauty, resistance, and struggle. I can live in the present moment because it is all that we have. I can hold Yolo Akili’s words close -“Oppression thrives on isolation. Connection is the only thing that can save you” – and hold the people and relationships in my life closer. I choose to find the real conversation sooner and stay with it as long as it needs to be had. And I can remind myself of Margaret Wheatley’s words: “Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending that we are individuals that can go it alone.”
Truly, none of us can go it alone. Relationships oxygenate our lives, they are the interstitial connective tissue that bind us together. I am grateful for the people who choose into relationship with me. In those connections, I am seen and heard in my triumph and my tears, challenged and uplifted as we work together to make meaning of senseless acts, and loved even when the loving hurts and feels like pain, grief, sadness, and anger. I work (and hope) to reciprocate a small fraction of what others have poured into me. And so it might not get any better (really), but togetherness makes it possible for me to live this life #OnPurpose and allows ease, acceptance, appreciation, and joy to coexist alongside the struggle.