Learning who we are can often mean learning when and to whom we are willing to sell ourselves.
I am a corporate slave.
There, I’ve admitted it upfront.
However, as my bum sits in the ergonomically designed chair, behind the ergonomically designed computer desk, that was designed thusly in the recognition that the bum was not meant to withstand such violent lethargy for eight hours each day, my mind is mostly free to wander (little mental engagement is needed for such tedious and inconsequential data entry.)
My mind wanders many places, but of late it’s been exploring the idea of purpose.
Purpose. Call it an existential crisis.
Clearly, the job I do every day is not my (capital P) Purpose. The Purpose I’m referring to is in the realm of inspired action where internal purpose and external purpose merge.
Internal purpose lives deep within the soul. It is what I came to this body to do (or be). I can sense it as a longing deep within myself in the solitude of meditation.
My corporate job is an external purpose. That purpose being, of course, to make some money to fulfill other external purposes (like buying things.) My soul does not long to record mileage in the company database (believe it or not) nor does it rejoice at the idea of beating our competitors to win contracts. Let’s face it: I’m only here for the money. But my point is not to complain.
When internal and external purposes merge we witness the birth of inspired action. Say, for example, in the writing of an influential book, the emergence of a charitable movement or the creation of a work of art. Inspired action is both of the heart and of action.
The trouble with inspired action is for me is that I often feel that I don’t have a choice. I need to work hard and make money.
I was listening to a recording of a talk by an American story-teller, poet, anarchist, folk-singer, Utah Phillips, the other day. What he said really woke me up and I would like to share that with you. It might seem simple, but of course, that is why it is so powerful.
In recollecting a conversation he had with a friend years before, Phillips states:
“…he said, ‘I told myself in ’27, if I cannot dictate the conditions of my labour I will henceforth cease to work.‘ You don’t have to go to college to figure these things out! He said, ‘I learned when I was young that the only true life I have is the life of my brain. But if it’s true that the only true life I have is the life of my brain, what sense does it make to hand that brain to somebody for 8 hours a day for their particular use on the presumption that at the end of the day they will give it back in an unmutilated condition? Fat chance!'”
It made me think of an article I read in the Sydney Morning Herald a few weeks back, called “The Modern Phenomenon of Nonsense Jobs.” (I think the title says it all.)
Externally-motivated work is clearly rife in our society.
What are these statements pointing to? Where is it all going? What does it mean? And why am I bringing it up?
These statements point to the recognition that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way much of the world operates.
Because, why did I come into this human body?
To valiantly serve this corporation in whom I own no stakes and to whose values I am, for the most part, vehemently opposed? Clearly not.
And where is it all going?
Well, it is going towards a shift. And that shift is on the level of me. I can’t tell you what that looks like yet, but I can tell you that it’s already gaining momentum in my brain.
I can sense freedom.
*sniff sniff* It’s here somewhere!!
What does it mean? It means I am responsible for the freedom of my own mind and, in due course, for the freedom of my own body too.
And of course, I bring this up because, lest I be a lethargic bum on an ergonomic chair, maybe I can start contributing to society in some meaningful way?
Like elephant journal on Facebook.
Assistant Editor: Gabriela Magana / Editor: Catherine Monkman