Once upon a time, there was a ten-year-old girl who lived in a house at the end of a long dirt road, and didn’t worry about things like her purpose.
She wrote stories, sat at her grandfather’s executive desk on Saturday mornings, held her brush-as-microphone while imagining being interviewed by Phil Donahue, and chose for her pet the duck with the broken wing. She was unaware that these things might be incongruous, impossible, or odd.
Over the years, she picked up and discarded books, desks, microphones, and hurts, with varying levels of commitment, good intentions, and her fair share of successes and failures. She lost her way more than once, distracted by the possibility of love and the aspirations of others.
Approaching midlife, she realized that nothing was as important as living her purpose.
She read a little Rumi: “If you don’t [live out your purpose], it’s as if a priceless Indian sword were used to slice rotten meant. It’s a golden bowl being used to cook turnips, when one filing from the bowl could buy a hundred suitable pots.”
She took note, talked to friends and mentors about wanting the streams of her life to flow into one river, the river of her purpose. Some days, still derailable and distractable, she felt that her streams were flowing in different directions, and sometimes they dwindled to a muddy trickle.
And then something dawned on her. The streams that she wanted to flow into the river of purpose were already flowing from the river of purpose. They always returned. She could fight and create obstacles, but the streams returned to their source.
So she stopped looking at herself from the outside, and saw that the girl is a middle-aged woman, and the middle-aged woman is me. And I want to tell you what I tell myself: just return.
The river has been there since the beginning. The streams of your life flow from it and back to it.
What is the river of your purpose?