When I was small, a paper jungle appeared in my dreams.
Tall, green construction paper grass waved in the wind along a straight red-dirt path. Sounds of birds, insects, and monkeys filled my ears, and the frightening growl of a tiger hidden in the thick followed me as I walked as quietly as I could along the trail.
I didn’t know what my dreams were telling me, but they were part of the whispers I would hear for many years, until I turned to face them and truly listen to what they had to say.
From deep within, I’d always had a knowing that, no matter what was going on around me, my life was going to be different—outstanding, even.
As a child in Missouri, I used to daydream about going to Africa (although it would take me years to be able to find specific countries on a map), and I longed to connect with people and nature. The rich soil where palms, banana trees, cacao, and bush grass grow was deep in my heart before I ever saw it with my eyes.
It wasn’t until I was in my late 30s, when two of my three boys were nearly grown and the business I’d built collapsed under the weight of an economy in freefall that I began asking myself tough questions about what I truly wanted to accomplish in my life.
I began to listen to the small voice I’d heard all along. It led me to escape the expectations of others and leave the confines of what society, and myself, limited me to becoming.
I began to travel, and along the way, I reconnected with my childhood dreams. I answered the call of Africa, traveling to Ghana and seeking to understand what role I could play in sustainably empowering other women and creating awareness and solutions for issues like child slavery and disparity in educational opportunities.
Six years later, that continues to be a large part of my life. But then again, it always has been. Every step I’ve taken along the way led me to where I am now, and I’m walking tall in my own purpose—the one I was born with and that led me down a winding path until I was ready to open my eyes and see it.
Somewhere along the way, life itself tends to waylay the dreamer in all of us.
I see so many friends and acquaintances walking around with little sparks of passion for whatever their thing is inside of them. They constantly battle to both fan those sparks and keep from growing at the same time. They don’t want to lose the light, but they don’t have the courage to let it get big and see how it changes their lives.
At the same time, so many people—especially those who, like me, lived many years trying to do what they’re supposed to do, only to find emptiness and lack of fulfillment—feel in their hearts that they have a purpose, but they don’t know what it is.
Many people spend years and hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars attending seminars and retreats, planting intentions and praying for answers. If you are one of those people, you should know that all of that is useless if you are looking outside of yourself.
That flame, that little flicker you have always had since you were born, is your purpose. Whether it’s a deep feeling of love and compassion for animals, caring for the homeless, inspiring young people through art, writing, or drama, or whatever your spark is, you don’t have to find it, because it isn’t lost. Like a red ember in a fire pit, it’s been there all along.
I say give that little sucker some dry leaves and a match and watch it burn. Let it be what it’s supposed to be; that little fire in your soul is there for a reason, and it’s not to give you indigestion.
Don’t try to find your purpose; just look inside. It’s been waiting in your dreams, and in the people, places and causes that light you up from the inside out.
Ask yourself, “What would I do if money weren’t an issue?” and decide you’re going to do it. Research it. Imagine it. Own it. Grab that sucker by the horns and give it a big kiss on the lips.
Then be on the lookout for all the doors the universe will open up to make it possible for you and the many people who will come into your life (if they aren’t already there) to walk it together.
They’re awesome. You’ll love them.
It really is that easy—and that hard. I can’t explain that, but you’ll figure it out.
And then, when you meet me, tell me about it. We’ll sit beside our bonfires together, fanning our flames and smiling because we’ll know we’re exactly where we were always supposed to be.
Author: Amanda Christmann
Editor: Toby Israel
Image: Mallory Johndrow/Unsplash