The Art of Living with Purpose

Note 3.11.14: this post is now also up on Medium.

“What makes your heart beat hardest?”

Answer this question for yourself.  Then move in that direction with every fiber of your being.  Because in truth, nothing else matters.

I have stuff to do.  It was not my intention to write today.  And now I must.  A call to action catalyzed by a series of images, music and a voice so pure and authentic, I am moved beyond logic and choice to remember, embrace and act upon who I am in the purest sense.  A vein tapped.  An indelible, haunting paean that obliges me to transcend self-imposed limitations and artificial glass ceilings.  A panegyric that compels inventory of not just the arc of life but the incalculable power held by every precious fraction of a moment.  The idea that legacy, meaning and purpose reside not in some indeterminate future, but only in the immediate now.

As this piece of evocative, elegiac art unspools, I am immediately captivated by the patient languishing upon the unadulterated weight and majesty of nature. An uninhabitable coastline. Gigantic crashing waves. A journey before time to the primordial stew. Earth in its purest form, perfectly cured of the infectious, predatory foibles of the human condition. An undeniable exclamation point upon the incalculable largess and supremacy of the cosmos, pulling covers on the insane banalities of modern routine. The sheer triviality of our predominant concerns. And the absurdity of our frivolous obsession with the material, a pursuit in madness that drains our souls until we are but empty vessels — listless, and without mooring.

Then the voice.  That flawless, unpolluted and haunting ancient pure Celtic tongue.  A relic of wisdom from a time long since past.  

Open your eyes and heart to the world.

I never set out to become anything in particular, only to live creatively, and push the scope of my experience. For adventure. And through passion.

Heavy waves, waves with weight. They coax from comfortable routine. Ignite the imagination. Convey some divine spark.  Whisper possibilities.

If I only scrape a livin’, at least it’s a livin’ worth scrapin’. If there’s no future in it, at least its a present worth rememberin’. For fires of happiness. And waves of gratitude. For everything that brought us to that point on Earth at that moment in time. To do something worth rememberin’.

Ancient man in the undiluted state of nature, possessed of the heart.  Pursuing his personal truth against odds, impossible cold and the gravity of crushing elements beyond reason, logic, security, fear and the restrictions of the social imperative to approach the core of purpose, meaning, passion.  An adrenaline shot of pure spirit driving an echoing that evokes the sheer irrelevance of everything our calculating minds work overtime to convince ourselves is important.  

Transcendence.

This is the passion and purpose I seek. 

This is the passion and purpose we should all seek.

I am inspired.

But inspiration is easy.  Implementation and action-based change isn’t.  In fact, it’s the hardest thing imaginable. Fear, logic, ego, friends and family dissuade. Every aspect of the thinking mind in revolt. Because pursuing freedom premised on faith and passion isn’t about thinking — it’s what thinking was designed to prevent. It’s not logical in any way shape or form. It threatens every dark corner of selfhood and status quo.  A terrifying reveal of “identity” as pure fiction — mere stories we tell ourselves about who we are and why we do what we do to comfort us against the paralyzing unknowable — that forces us and others to confront the truth about choices made.  

A truly objective look in the mirror usually isn’t pleasant.  Armed in denial, we go to great lengths to avoid this act.  I know I do.  It takes gigantic balls to quiet external noise. Even bigger balls to quell the internal rebellion — the voice of the mind that destroys imagination, levels wonder and clutches to fear and illusion with an impossible death grip.

Faith stands in denial of reason. In order to pursue a life of passion, the mind must be destroyed.  Comfort in unknowingness.  An embrace of the void.

When I first embarked on this heart-based journey, I could have never imagined the life I now enjoy.  Despite advanced degrees from prestigious universities and a promising career track, I was devoid of passion.  Eventually the pain became so great, the only solution was to let it all go or die.  Pain works that way.  It’s a great catalyst for change.

Broke and married with 4 kids, I spent countless hours pedaling a bike, running ridiculous distances or staring at a black line at the bottom of a pool, looking for answers as I trained for the ludicrous endurance-fest known as the Ultraman World Championships.  It wasn’t just illogical, it was utterly baffling in it’s relationship to responsibility.  And yet deep in the recesses of my soul, I knew with every aspect of my being that it was what I was meant to be doing.  Because it’s what made my heart beat hardest.  

My wife — bless her soul — agreed.  In fact, she pushed me to continue when faith faltered and the mind strove to reclaim the reins.  My biggest cheerleader, she could tell my drive emanated from a place of pure passion.  That despite all that is rational, my life depended upon this particular brand of physically and mentally excruciating soul exploration.

Somehow I found the means to cast aside the endless chatter of the thinking mind. To be fair, fear retained a foothold of precious real estate in my consciousness. But I found the wherewithal to nonetheless move forward in the face of it.  And ignore the often unbearable social pressures relentlessly driving to derail me.  I focused on the heart.  I relied on faith.  I got comfortable with the uncomfortable.  I embraced the mystery of not knowing what the next day might bring.  And at every turn, I focused on how I could be of service to others.  Because there is gigantic, undeniable truth in the edict that when you give, you get back tenfold.

As a result, I have somehow persevered. Broken through into a new life.  An impossible astounding life beyond what I previously thought possible.  Today, I’m a bestselling author.  An in-demand public speaker.  A popular podcast host.  An accomplished athlete.  A respected wellness advocate.  And over the last year I have been paid handsomely to travel to exotic places I never imagined I would ever lay eyes on, investing in service and experience. Creating a legacy. And yes, I remain a happily married family man.  But more than anything, I am content.  Comfortable in my own skin, with a deep knowing that I am exactly where I am meant to be.

I’m not saying this to brag.  Nor to suggest that you ignore real world responsibilities.  Only to share that the limits we impose upon ourselves are generally illusory.  And driven primarily by fear.  Fear of failure.  Fear of success. Fear of the unknown.  Fear of discomfort.  Fear of financial insecurity.  Fear of what others might think.  All told, fear of everything.

And fear is not your friend.  Not now, not ever.

To be clear. I’m also not promising anyone that a heart-based life will result in financial reward or notoriety.  Only that it will infuse your life with meaning and purpose.  Happiness — not in a blissed out unicorns and rainbows sense — but rather a deep satisfaction that your life has value.  A value that can be shared.  Passed on as inspiration in service to others who feel impossibly stuck. Imprisoned by a life not of their choosing but compelled by circumstance; and the perils of the thinking mind — an organ wired to prioritize comfort, security and avoidance of fear and challenge over adventure and the depth of experience.

And so the question I pose is this: What are you doing with your life?  And more importantly why are you doing it?

This is your call to action.  Delve deep within.  Do the internal work to embrace the child hidden deep inside — the child before your parents told you to be quiet and your teachers told you to sit down.  Do whatever it takes to find and unlock that thing that makes your heart beat hardest.  Then take the leap.  Invest in experience.  Unleash that inner artist cowering inside yearning to be expressed in whatever form compels you.  Embrace the mystery and challenge of the untrodden path.  

Then watch as a better, more authentic self begins to surface.  Fertilize that sapling like your life depends upon it.  Because it does.

I’m here to say it’s worth the journey.  And at the end of the day, there is nothing but the journey.  Because destination is pure illusion.

In the words of Mickey, do something worth remembering.

This is the art of living with purpose.

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