The Search Continues

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Have you ever questioned what your higher purpose is?  More often than not, we find a purpose that relates to our careers.  For me, it’s always been about making a positive difference in the world.  In the teaching profession, this was an “easy” mission to have. We teach students how to identify problems, research the facts to support them, and brainstorm ideas for solutions.  Throughout each day, topics popped up all the time that required us to think critically.  And as a staunch supporter of the environment, I usually devoted my lunch time to sponsor a student-led group that worked to help the earth. Volunteering for district and school-based committees that focused on social justice and the environment were also important to me .  There were so many avenues for making a difference in the lives of students, colleagues and families, and they allowed me to immerse myself completely.

So when I was forced to stop working in 2013 as a result of my Cervical Dystonia symptoms, my purpose was taken away too.  While I’ve struggled with that ever since, I’ve only been cognitively alert enough to think about it since September of last year.

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend about all the care giving I was doing in my home.  My cat of fifteen years had just been diagnosed with cancer, and his symptoms kept piling up. He was so dehydrated that all of his hair was sticking up on his body.  As a result, our vet. had me injecting him with fluids every day with the hope that he would retain some of the water in his body.  He’d been losing a lot of weight with his kidney problems, so I was vigilant about making sure he ate as much of his food as possible.  Until he couldn’t.  He’d been prescribed a steroid for pain, another pain medication, and a blood pressure medication.  As soon as he refused to take his medications that were stuffed inside food, I had to crush them up so they could be dissolved in water and given to him via a syringe.  I constantly needed to monitor his ability to walk, go up and down stairs, and lie down. While I didn’t want to take away the activities he was still wanting to do, I had to make sure he was safe.

My purpose at that time was to make him as comfortable as possible in his last few days of life.  I had no idea that I’d lose him just nine days after his diagnosis.  But my full-time job was taking care of Bennie and his canine brothers Speckles and Morey.  I went from being a full-time caregiver to myself to devoting all my time to caring for my kitty.   Without Bennie, what’s my purpose now?

That’s a great question!  I wish I knew.  What I do know is that I wish I’d identified a larger life purpose outside my career before I was unable to work.  If I’d had that, my life would’ve seemed so much more worthwhile these past few years.

My Hopes:  Certainly, my hope for me is that I’m able to discover what my present purpose in life is.  And for you?  What is your life’s bigger meaning?  Do you have one that extends beyond your job?

If you’ve been through this soul-searching for any reason, please share how you identified what your mission in life is.  I continue to struggle with finding my purpose, yet I have a feeling I’m not alone.  It would help to know others are going through this same process.  If we can share what works with one another, we can make a huge difference in all of our lives.

 

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2 thoughts on “The Search Continues

  1. I think we have to be careful about the way we define ‘purpose’ in our lives… As those of us with difficult illnesses are aware, life can change quickly, and if we’ve been defining ourselves through our work, or our particular role in a family or group, this can be taken from us in the blink of an eye.
    I prefer to think of purpose in terms of being a good person. Being as courageous as possible while living the ups and downs of a challenging condition. Noticing the beauty of the world when and as I can. Doing my best to find positive ways to distract from pain, discomfort, and anxiety by learning new things and engaging with friends and family as possible. Allowing myself to be human, to cry. Caring for my pets, tending my home as well as possible.
    We live in a culture where we are judged by external means – our work, our college degrees, social successes, physical beauty. Illness or other unexpected upheavals can bring this house of cards crashing down… and we’re left only with ourselves and those who care about us. Best to acknowledge our humanness, do the things we enjoy, be kind, and let that be ‘purpose’ enough. And if we’re fortunate enough to recover and re-join the lives we so enjoyed before becoming sick, to cherish and to celebrate that while remembering how fragile life can be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jacquie, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this. Perhaps I’m overthinking my purpose. When I was teaching, I felt my purpose was to make a positive difference in the lives of my students, their families and ultimately making the world a better place. Pretty big expectations for myself, right? So I guess it makes sense that’d feel like I was crashing, going from that to “nothing”. I do all the things you wrote about in your second paragraph and am petting my dog Speckles in between typing this up. I have a bracelet that says “I am enough.” Perhaps, I need to remember that affirmation.

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