There are a million ways to find your life’s purpose. That’s because there are seven thousand million people crawling all over this little blue orb (the Earth) looking for their purpose, and every single one finds it differently. In fact, most never find it.
This is the great overlooked reality – there is no one rule, no one system to figure out why you’re here dancing on the big blue marble (again, the Earth). That makes sense though doesn’t it? There is a huge variety of people, who all have a huge variety of experiences, across a huge variety of places.
Still, I bet I can draw a common thread between everyone. All seven billion. It’s just one more way, one more tool in your kit that you can use to answer the question we are all asking – ‘what is my purpose’?
First, we need to read a story about a turkey named Kiri:
Kiri the Terrible Turkey
“I don’t understand what’s wrong with her”. Valerio’s old turkey voice was deep and warm, scarred by years of experience leading his clan. “The other poults are coming along just fine, scratching and pecking and such. But this strange little one, Kiri, she needs more instruction.”
The other turkeys nodded in furious agreement, their dangly wattles and snoods flopping from side to side.
“I haven’t even heard her gobble yet!” Valerio exclaimed.
Kiri’s heart sank. She was only a mere ten feet away from the brush circle, stealthily eavesdropping on the gathering. She worked out long ago that her turkey brothers and sisters couldn’t hear or see as sharply as she could.
She had so studiously practised her turkey habits – scratching, eating corn and rolling in the dust, but gobbling came especially hard. She knew she wasn’t the best turkey in the world but surely she could conquer the most basic turkey trait of all: gobbling.
With her simmering determination her mighty wings began to unfurl before she noticed and snapped them to her side. “Such un-turkey-like behaviour” she scolded herself as she shuffled away to find a secluded place to practise.
Perched atop a small mound at the centre of a clearing, Kiri opened her massive beak and pushed. Nothing. She centred her strong body over her talons and pushed again. Out came a few scratchy yelps. A sound for sure, but nothing like a gobble.
“Why is this so hard?” she wondered.
Frustrated, she prepared herself for a third try. She’d push her voice to breaking point if she had to. She gathered all the strength she could muster as her wings began to unfurl again without her noticing.
With an almighty push she released a blood-curdling SCREECH!
Adrenaline surged through Kiri’s feathered body. Her wings now stretched their full five feet wide, her eyes sharpened and her mind cleared. She felt focused, strong, and for the first time, alive.
As her spine-tingling scream resonated throughout the valley, small birds emptied from their trees. Her turkey brethren scrambled for cover, startled by the cry of an unseen but fearsome predator. With her keen eyesight she could spot turkeys hiding everywhere in the brush.
Oh no! She was forgetting Valerio’s first lesson, the foundational lesson for all turkeys: to prefer fear over bravery. Vivid memories of her tutelage flooded her mind: “fear keeps you alive”, “live to fight another day”, “better safe than dead”. But she felt no fear, her blood now coursing with adrenaline and raw courage.
“What kind of turkey feels no fear?” she wondered.
It didn’t matter. Her terrifying screech sounded so wrong yet felt so right.
The blue abyss above her tore itself wide open, beckoning. The most primal of all her urges told her that the sky was home, and a place she truly belonged. Intoxicated by the wide expanse above she stiffened her proud wings and pumped them down through the air once, twice.
“Kiri!” Valerio yelled, scuffling toward her. “Hide, there’s an eagle! Didn’t you hear it?”
He wrapped his weathered wing around her and started shoving her through the dirt, toward the scrub.
“No Valerio!” she replied, “I’m not afraid…”
It fell on deaf ears. The old turkey gobbled something about ‘fear keeping you alive’ as he bundled her into the scrub with the others. The flurry was over, with Kiri tightly wedged between her turkey brothers and sisters.
Peering through the branches they sat motionless. The muffled pounding of tiny bird hearts was all that punctuated the suspicious silence. Filled with dread they looked skyward. She too scanned the sky, but not for danger. Her eyes drank in that vast blue expanse like a tonic for the soul.
Mesmerised by the sky and hemmed in by her adopted family, she could hear the turkeys’ whispers:
“What kind of a turkey is she? She’s not afraid.”
Heart racing, Kiri wondered the same thing: “Maybe I’m not a turkey after all.”
Kiri didn’t realise she was an eagle, or at least forgot she was after so many years in the company of turkeys. So isn’t it heartbreaking to see an eagle trying to fit in on the ground when she was destined for the sky? It’s crazy that Kiri would beat herself up over not feeling fear, when she wasn’t designed to be a fearful and flighty creature; she was meant to be a bold and fearsome predator.
Kiri thought she was a turkey and tried so very hard to be a good one. That could only lead to a life of disappointment and failure. She was a terrible turkey. She may not have known what she was, but it’s pretty obvious she was no turkey.
The fact that we all ask the question ‘what is my purpose’ betrays the common thread amongst us all – we know what we are not. Even when we’re unsure of who we are meant to be, we know for certain who we’re not meant to be. That’s a much easier question to answer.
Across time and distance, we are all bound together by this same dissatisfaction. It is not a common purpose that seems to unite us and that’s why there are a million and one ways to find your own purpose. There is however a common discontentment that unites us. It’s the same discontentment that drives us all to ask the question ‘what is my purpose’. I’d guess if you knew your purpose, you wouldn’t be asking the question, right?
This is the one technique that everyone should add to their tool bag: take note of what you are not. Instead of banging your head against a wall trying to be something you are not, recognise the incongruence and do something else. Stop trying to be someone you are not. It looks ridiculous…as ridiculous as an eagle pretending to be a turkey.
That solves a large part of our search for purpose by narrowing the field significantly. Instead of striving and grabbing hold of ever more, let go. De-clutter. Simplify. Relax. Let your purpose gently glow ever brighter until it’s so bright and so solitary that you cannot miss it.
Turkey picture: Andrea Westmoreland Eagle picture: Tambako The Jaguar