Ok, to be fair, I love all cats. But, as a teenager, I fell in love with a dead cat. At first, I was appalled by it. The smell. The rigidity. Ewwwww. My high school biology teacher explained how the cat’s anatomy was very similar to ours and why they are great subjects to study human anatomy. Then he handed us gloves, a mask, and a scalpel.
The process of dissecting a cat is pretty horrifying at first. But, once I got in there, disgust turned to utter fascination. I loved every sinewy muscle from the other. I loved the shape of the organs. I loved the formaldehyde smell wafting down the hallway as I bounced toward my classroom. After a few weeks of joyous dissecting, I knew I wanted to become a doctor.
I had found my purpose!
I’ve always been a little obsessed with finding my purpose. When I was 15 years old my exotic aunt who collected Ouija boards and had a Voodoo wedding ceremony bought me Soul-Purpose: Discovering and Fulfilling Your Destiny by Mark Thurston. She was the only one who understood my longing for something beyond the physical. It was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.
I started university with great intentions, but once pre-med classes began and other interests flooded in, I realized being a doctor wasn’t for me.
But, what about my purpose?
I felt lost, so I did what any seeker would do. I read books and visited with spiritual healers and soothsayers, attended programs, and visited churches. I took hallucinogens in the desert and studied abroad to find myself.
With each new piece of information, I was left with more questions than answers. More unknowns discovered as I came to know something new. As each truth was realized another mystery took its place. I felt stuck in a metaphysical wormhole of never-ending discovery.
And then it hit me.
The dead cat. Well, not the actual dead cat. I was struck by the realization that every purpose I’d uncovered, from the very first one of becoming a doctor, was just a new career idea I thought would fulfill me.
Same, same. I wasn’t looking deep into my soul, I was just scratching the surface of my vocational desires. Once I delved deeper, I knew.
It’s not about the job.
I realized purpose is beyond a single job or career path. It’s way bigger than that and more meaningful. It’s what moves you, excites you, gets you in your flow, and into your groove. It’s a reflection of your very essence.
It may be delivered in a lightning flash epiphany or through a slow, unfolding process. You may not even notice it unless you’re looking for it, waiting and wanting.
But, when you find it. You’ll know. It will feel just right.
Unfortunately, there are many barriers to realizing your purpose. Pressure from parents or society to be something they want you to be. A general disregard and discomfort of soul-searching. A focus on doing the “right” thing: choosing the right major, finding the right job, meeting the right spouse, buying the right house, and on and on. You know the formula and, from what I’ve observed, it doesn’t add up.
Attaining these external markers of success often will not lead to contentment, joy, and an exuberance for life unless they’re earned while in your groove and following your purpose. Which leads us to the most important thing to remember.
Finding your purpose is your job.
And when you find it, you’ll feel the success of your soul. You’ll experience a joyful life and not just moments of happiness. You’ll love your career, your family, your life. You’ll love yourself more than you thought possible.
Maybe you’ll even love a dead cat if you ever come across one.
If you could do just one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Please share in the comments section.