Which Way From Here? #37 #cong22
Traditionally, we looked to our work or our faith for our sense of purpose, but when these fail us, we must look somewhere else instead.
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- For most of us, our sense of purpose is not satisfied by either work or faith.
- As a result, the ways in which we seek our purpose has changed.
- Now that we can relate to the whole world through ever-expanding media of communication, we are often tempted to retreat to a self-centred sense of purpose.
- Choosing to relate to the whole world requires a generous spirit, and a real commitment to give and take.
About Gerard Tannam:
Gerard Tannam leads Islandbridge Brand Development (www.Islandbridge.com), a team of specialists working to build great relationships in the marketplace that bridge the gap between buyers and sellers.
Contacting Gerard Tannam:
By Gerard Tannam
“Could you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” asked Alice.
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where-“said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“- so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
Once upon a time, many of us found our purpose in our work or in our faith. I say ‘found’ when, of course, I really mean that we often had it thrust upon us by our family and our community. For most of us, in those far off days of scratching about for a living, it was largely a question of survival, getting by both a means and an end, a somewhat joyless existence when you think about it. And whilst we were busy surviving, a small number with time on our hands – the appointed and the self-appointed alike – busied ourselves in exploring our world and seeking a sense of purpose that might reach past simply getting by.
When that world itself wasn’t enough and gave us no answers only pointers, we looked further afield. We pictured worlds beyond this one, places and people who might help us make sense of our everyday lives. But when one day in the fields or at the workbench is added to another, and then to another again, and hardly seems to amount to much, it’s only natural that we dream of neverlands or wonderlands where we might instead find our purpose. Which brings us back to Alice and those not so faraway nineteenth century days when more and more of us, and not just the appointed ones, had time on our hands to question the meaning of it all.
When we returned like Alice from our adventures down the rabbit hole and realised that there were no answers to be found there only questions, and when those who ordain the work that we do and the faith that we follow no longer inspired our confidence, we were left once again to seek our purpose with this world only as our reference.
As we look around this world and we ask ourselves what purpose we might have, most of us are drawn to consider first what we want from the people, the creatures and the places closest to us. This sense of purpose is often self-centred, concerned more with what we get than what we give. Until we realise that this is unsatisfactory, and that we are more likely to be truly satisfied only when we establish relationships that are more give and take.
For most of us, we get our sense of purpose from one another, from the relationships which we form with the people, the creatures and the places that make up our world. And as the media through which we relate to the world brings us closer to the wider world, many of us find that our sense of purpose has grown to concern how we relate to everyone and everything everywhere in the world.
This can be hugely daunting, even overwhelming, and it’s tempting for us to retreat to our starting point, to a self-centred take on the people, and the creatures and the places that make up our world, rather than the more expansive one to which we are naturally drawn.
Choosing to relate to the whole world takes courage. It requires a generous spirit. If we choose to relate with those other people, creatures and places, we must do it with a real commitment to both give and take. When it comes to the work we do, we and the world are best served when its purpose corresponds to our overall sense of purpose in the world. If it doesn’t, it leaves most of us deeply dissatisfied.