When life is sailing along fine, it is easy to find the answers. You make your own choices in a meaningful life by engaging in a grand plan for the greater good, or simply being the very best you can be. You can choose to find meaning in your work, the right amount of space for leisure, and of having fulfilling relationships.
A life crisis or trauma can shatter all that. The ‘meaning of life’ takes a jolt. In my case, what I thought my life was suddenly wasn’t. I had lost control and was denied the choice of where my life was heading. I felt my future had been stolen.
Most of my driving force throughout my life had been preparation for the future. When the future became today, I planned for another future. So I sought and achieved a good education, took immense pleasure in seeing my children grow and succeed, looked ahead and planned for a secure retirement. I was always looking ahead. Suddenly in the calamity of my separation, I worried and became anxious about the future.
Life for me lost its meaning and purpose; and my ability to plan for the future disintegrated.. Yet having meaning in life and a plan for the future is a major driving force of survival. What can be done when seemingly this had taken away? My solution through this calamity, has been to stop focussing on the big picture of finding a meaningful ‘life’; and to instead focus on the here and now of today, by finding meaningful ‘projects’. Projects that are rewarding, stimulating, and fulfilling. When I was in the depths of this crisis, in survival mode, I still needed a reason for getting out of bed, for putting one foot in front of the other. Meaningful projects became the answer for me, to find some reason for beginning each day, and to be able to say at the end of the day “I did that, and I feel proud of what I did”.
In the beginning, finding a project for an hour helped me survive; then gradually projects that would take a day; then a week. Now I am able to think a month or two ahead and start planning forward.
My focus initially not only became my daily routines and getting on with them, but also finding meaning in them, and being grateful for the simple aspects of them. It now seems funny to think that one day I took pride in hanging the washing out on the line as the sun was beating warmly on my back. Never before had I ever felt that hanging the washing out could hold any meaning or purpose for me, yet that particular day it did. It gave me something to do. Likewise, I made a ‘project’ of spring-cleaning the house; and then refurbishing and adapting the house to suit me. I was proud of how it looked when I finished. Currently I have given myself a project of getting my photos in order.
I turn to the magnificence of the meaning of each day. I marvel every day at the sunrise and nature all around me. I take great pleasure in taking walks in nature. Life may be difficult, but there are still moments that offer joy, peace, calm – and meaning.
I have become absorbed in discovering ‘me’. I have made it a project. I am exploring not only my own beliefs and philosophies; but also that of others. I research each aspect in depth and explore its meaning. I have become interested in poetry, biographies and music. I learn and explore on these themes every day.
Finally, I have been writing all about this, in my journal, in my blogging. Writing about it has become rewarding and fulfilling, especially the feedback from others.
Eventually I know that I will find and return to a higher life purpose. Meanwhile, as life goes on I am finding these smaller projects, whilst seemingly not ‘my life purpose’, do give my life meaning. They are stimulating. They are fulfilling. They are giving me back control. Most importantly, my need for continual learning and growth is being met.
Image courtesy [gubgib] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net