A new year is a good time for reflection. So I’ve been thinking a lot about my path, my purpose. What am I meant to do in this world? And how do I know that’s what I’m meant to do?
Truth be told, I started posing these questions to myself a few months ago, after a coffee visit with a colleague. She is one of the most positive and radiant individuals I know. If there is such a thing as an “old soul,” that’s her.
We hadn’t spoken in a while, so she came by to catch me up on some new projects, the trajectory of her music career, and her current path. As we sipped away on homemade lattes, the conversation drifted to mediation, intentions, and the deeper, bigger meaning of life. We were talking about her, when suddenly, she shifted the conversation to me, and the path that I was on.
Unbeknownst to her, I’d been wondering about that very thing. But it’s a great big intimidating question; one not easy to answer. It’s an easy question to push aside amid the busy-ness of life. I always tell myself, “I’ll answer that question another day… I`ve got too much to do today…”
That’s basically the same evasive answer I gave her: “I’ve been so busy lately, I haven’t had time to think about it.” That was true, yes, but only partially.
The other reason I haven’t given it much thought is because deep down, there’s a part of me that is afraid to know my purpose. Because then, it might feel like a burden. Like something you HAVE to do. And then there’s always the chance of not fulfilling it. So if you don’t, does that mean you’ve wasted your life? Not knowing your purpose seems to come with a lot less pressure. As the saying goes, ignorance is bliss.
After she left, I felt a wave of emotion and energy, and a strong urge to meditate. So that’s what I did. I allowed myself to just sit and slow my mind. And that’s when a long forgotten memory came flooding back.
I was 22, and working at Camp Stephens on Lake of the Woods. One night when there were only staff on the island, a few of us decided to camp outside. We didn’t do this often because of mosquitos, but it was a cool night, and the bugs weren’t too bad. So we found a nice open spot near the edge of the treeline, and crawled into our sleeping bags for a cozy night under the stars.
Laying there on our backs, looking up at the dark night sky, the scene was absolutely breathtaking. Gazillions of stars twinkled overhead, spanning from horizon to horizon. I remember feeling so infinitely small, yet somehow, part of it all.
For the next few hours, we talked about all kinds of things. Our conversation eventually drifted to the deeper, bigger meaning of life, what it’s all about, and the idea of coincidences – the fact they were not coincidental.
In that moment, I can swear I had some kind of existential experience. I suddenly felt engulfed by the sky, and all around me was blackness, like I was in a tunnel. All I could see were the gazillion twinkling stars shining down from above. And then, I experienced an incredible understanding of the universe.
It was like someone or something had cracked open a doorway, filled me with infinite knowledge, and gave me a glimpse into the meaning of life. I had clarity that I had never before experienced, and a profound sense of peace. In that moment, I was certain that the world made perfect sense. And coincidences were the key. I got it, fully and completely. Although I didn’t even know what ‘it’ was.
As quickly as the feeling came, it was gone. Just like that. I have no idea where it came from, or why it came to me on that particular night. It was very strange and surreal. A little bit spooky even.
Up to that moment in my young adult life, I had never had any deep philosophical discussions. Yet, I suddenly knew with 100% certainty that everything happens for a reason, and that we are all put on this earth for a purpose. One day, someday, I, too, would know my purpose. And coincidences, when they happen, are not at all coincidental. Rather, they are signposts letting us know we are on the right path, on the way to our bigger purpose.
In the years following, the idea that coincidences are not coincidental really resonated with me. Anytime I experienced a coincidence, I felt a sense of confirmation that I was on the right path. I knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be in that moment.
It’s hard to describe exactly what happened on that weird and wonderful night when I was 22. Anytime I tried to explain it to someone else, they’d stare at me with looks of confusion. They didn’t get it. And really, neither did I. So I eventually stopped trying to understand it. And over time, I forgot about it.
In fact, I hadn’t thought about this for many years, until my colleague triggered the memory. In talking about her own journey in life, she unknowingly reawakened in me an awareness of my own journey – past, present and future. Reminding me, and assuring me, that I must be on the right path.
I think not.