I was talking to a son of a friend of mine who is 16 years old and rather evolved for his age, and I asked him, "Michael, why do you think we are here?" and he said to me, "To wake up." He proceeded to elaborate on that thought by saying: "I think most people are asleep -- they don't know who they are. I think we need to wake up to who we are." He then asked me, "Agapi, why do you think we are here?" I had no hesitation replying, "I think we are here to evolve and transform, and I think that everything that happens in our lives, and everything that doesn't happen is the journey to our transformation... I think fundamentally I totally agree with you, that we are here to wake up."
This conversation prompted this blog.
There is an underlying and maybe sometimes not so underlying question, which is in all of us: What is the purpose of my life and what am I here to do? Obviously, each one of us has to find our own unique and personal answer to these questions.
"How can I find my purpose?" That's a question I get asked a lot from people who are successful to unemployed, happily married to single, etc. "I don't feel connected to a purpose," they say.
I like to think of our purpose as our individual calling. It does not have to do with our accomplishments or our resume; it is a deeper thing that connects us to our heart's pulse. When we find it, it adds meaning to whatever we do and helps us feel the true sense of what success is.
Either way, when we connect to our heart's calling, everything starts to have meaning. So I have come up with five questions that as you answer can bring your calling closer to you.
What am I here to learn?
What am I here to teach?
What am I here to overcome?
What am I here to complete?
What am I here to express?
If you take a moment to answer these questions from an authentic, truthful place, the answers may be very different from what you had previously thought. These questions are meant to break down self-imposed standards we have bound ourselves with.
The answers to these questions are ongoing and evolving. At different stages in our lives, we are here to teach and learn different things. Nothing is set in stone. As you answer these questions, you may find that there is a blueprint that emerges that can guide you to what calls you, and as you follow that thread you start to experience more of an inner fulfillment. Going through life knowing that we are all teachers and we are all students, and we all have something to contribute, alleviates a sense of separation we often feel. That knowing can bring a solace and comfort to the basic question: "Why am I here?" It helps us create a bigger arena where we can explore the dimensions of our lives. It adds tremendous creativity in our existence and makes us welcome the unknown instead of fearing it. It also puts us in the driver's seat where we become the creator of our lives. Seeing that everything that happens in our lives, the good, the bad and the ugly, becomes part of life's tapestry. Our life's experiences are the alchemy that helps us transform and awaken to who we are. My mother used to say, "We are all born an original, and it is a challenge to stay an original in a world that tries to mold us to fit in."
I personally started my life thinking that I was here to become a successful actress. I went to a prestigious drama school and was acknowledged and validated as a very talented actress, moving on to Hollywood to do a movie. When the movie did not work out I went through a soul-searching journey only to discover years later that my calling was not to become a successful actress and perform others' scripts, but to write my own script, create my own life, and design my own set. I found my calling in a NY bus, performing for a stranger, realizing that I had to share my gift of expression unconditionally. I had restricted myself with expectations of what life should bring me until that moment.
Learning to become resourceful within myself was and is an extraordinary process, and the joy it brought me is invaluable. So often when I feel stuck about something the question I ask is, "How can I create a desirable outcome?" I return to the basics: "What do I need to overcome here?" It always leads me to taking a positive action. Sometimes it's overcoming a misconception of inadequacy, or fearing to even try in case I don't achieve the outcome I was hoping for. Overcoming that in itself creates a huge amount of space for all sorts of possibilities that you may not have even thought of to surface.
The mistake we make as human beings is how we attach ourselves and our well-being to external circumstances for validation. The irony is that some of the greatest awakenings we often have are triggered after things don't work out.
I have often heard statements such as, "Breaking up with this person and going through my divorce led me to find myself and who I really was." "Leaving the job that I thought was it, lead me to find out what I really wanted to do," etc.
I hope that these questions bring you a lightheartedness to what can be the serious quest for our life's purpose because they are meant to bring clarity. I see these questions as a compass to our center, out of which we can enjoy our lives no matter what.
The funny thing is that I am writing this blog as I am sitting with my Greek friend Stavroula, who works with me, having a glass of wine, some mozzarella and tomatoes in NY's Little Italy. I'm watching people in the summer evening walking about at a slow pace, licking ice creams, couples holding hands and kissing, children running around, men cruising and tons of people sitting on the pavement having dinner, stress-free, enjoying life in the moment. As I am witnessing these rich moments in others' lives, I can't help but think to myself that maybe the sixth and most important question is: "Are you enjoying your life, my dear?" and if the answer is no, ask yourself why not. If not now, when.
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