You got through and maybe even enjoyed Halloween this past weekend. Yay! And in case you missed it, we also have an election coming up tomorrow. Oh and a pandemic that’s changed how we do life. So much going on that’s stirring up so much in ourselves and friction in families, friends, communities, and the world. Instead of focusing on all the externals we can’t control today, I’m turning inward. I want to talk about the why? More specifically, in the context of grief and pain, why do we seek growth, healing, self reflection etc.
To feel better, duh…. Yes, but why do we want to feel better? Just wanting to feel better isn’t enough. That’s where the trying and giving up trap happens. That’s where the coping mechanisms that short circuit really lasting change come. And what is “better” anyway?
Shortly after Alison died, my whole world also fell into shambles around me. The house my life had been was in ruins at my feet. There was no place for shelter so my first why was survival. I needed to feel sane enough, strong enough, forward facing enough to show up for work so I could pay the rent. I needed to set my overwhelming grief aside long enough to focus on my school work. My why was to keep my two feet under me and a roof over my head.
During those times people often praised my strength, saying how they just couldn’t imagine how I was doing it. I didn’t see strength, I saw necessity. I had to keep on keeping on to create a life for myself. That was now my why. Something inside of me knew I had to push forward, to nurture that little spark of creation and creativity in the slow evolution of my life. I knew that I was in a unique situation of completely redefining my life and who I was.
Not many people are handed a blank slate as I was. And while I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to write on that slate, I knew what I didn’t want to write, “Broken and Bereaved”. Yes, I was both of those things at the moment, however I didn’t want that to become my identity. Somehow I knew as I began my rebuilding, just as the concrete in a house’s foundation solidifies and holds firm, broken and bereaved could’ve easily become my foundation, and I didn’t want them to hold firm. I wanted something more, I wasn’t sure what, but I knew I wanted bigger. The search for my bigger became my why. I knew dealing with my emotions, feelings, and pain were necessary to get to the unknown bigger.
Finally, sitting on my back patio on a warm July afternoon I received my marching orders. I knew my bigger why. I would be moving to a tropical island to create my own thing. Making the move, creating that new thing became the most inspiring why to date. There was a boat-load of uncertainty that came with quitting a career, selling a house, and moving 2,500 miles away to a place where I knew no one. But I’d never felt more alive, more turned on and tuned in. And it was contagious.
My inspired actions were causing others to reflect on their own lives. That’s what happens when you fully embody your purpose and personhood. You spark the imagination of others, they begin to wonder how they can fan their flame. You give them permission to discover their why. And your why doesn’t need to be something monumental like moving to a remote island.
My first why was to survive so I could rebuild. I didn’t even know yet what I was building, I just knew that I needed to and that was enough. So what is your why? Why are you showing up for yourself today? Why did you take a couple of minutes to read this?
Once you’re in touch with your why, all of the external noise and significant pressures we are feeling right now can be seen in a new light, through your filter of your why. It won’t take the pressures away, but it can ground them into a new pro-active perspective. Perhaps no less uncomfortable, but at least you’ve been brought back to your own inspired yourself.
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