Human beings are pre-programmed to be social animals. We are made to connect.
In Wayfinding: The Art and Science of How We Find and Lose Our Way, Michael Bond describes how two tribes:
… the !Kung and the Aché think nothing of walking a few dozen miles to exchange stories and news with another group, though both are outclassed by the Hiwi in Venezuela, who have been known to walk sixty miles through day and night to visit a neighbouring village before walking back again a couple of hours later.
Today we might connect more online than in real life (especially in the current circumstances) and, even those of us who embrace our deeply introvert tendencies still crave some form of interaction with others. It can give us validation but also show us where we fit in.
Deep down, we all want to belong, and to find our place.
This journey is, essentially, a solitary endeavour. Even though we may be surrounded by others, no-one else can navigate our life for us. We each have to scale our own mountain.
If you take away all the distractions of our lives and pare back to basics, we are left with only ourselves. Who are we when we stand at the bottom of that mountain, unencumbered, gazing up at the peak we hope to reach? A journey that we alone can take.
The path that lies ahead of us is our life. It is the road back to ourselves, to that innermost essence of who we are.
I believe that each of our lives has purpose, that we are here for something more than mere existence. Our mission is to discover that purpose.
It’s easy to think that purpose has to be grandiose. In some cases, it may be. But, most often, our reason for being is much more simple.
Our purpose is what brings us home to ourselves. To truly know the awesomeness of who we are, the sheer magnificence of who we can be.
why do we doubt ourselves?
So, hands up if you’re sitting there, reading this, thinking ‘who, me?’.
I’ve always been a fan of the underdog makes good kind of films. The ones where the main character has an amazing ability and, by sheer fluke, is discovered and hits the big time. And, of course, lives happily ever after.
I love watching the video of Shallow, from the remake of A Star is Born. That moment when Lady Gaga’s character finds her voice on stage, in front of a huge audience. That’s what dreams are made of.
There are countless other examples, some fictional, others biographical, of people discovering their gift. Finding their redemption.
I don’t think I’m unique. We all have our hopes and dreams. Somewhere, deep down, we want to leave a legacy or make a mark on the world.
Or maybe we just want to give full expression to who we know we are, but have been too afraid to try.
how do you make people feel?
I used to park quite often at a car park in Manchester near Castlefield, when I worked in town. I’d be there by 6:30 a.m., shortly after the attendant arrived. The car park would still be empty. We would chat about something or other. He was always very nice to me, one day waiving my parking fee, just because.
He had worked in that job for 25 years, meeting and greeting people, taking payments, and managing the car park. He died 2 years ago. He was 47. One night he sat down in his chair and had a massive heart attack.
He was just a car park attendant.
Yet many of the car park regulars were enormously saddened by his death. I realised I wasn’t the only one he chatted to. He was the same with everyone. He made an impact and left a legacy.
Making a mark doesn’t have to be grand gestures, celebrity or relentless self-promotion but basic human connection with others. It’s the simple things that make the difference and touch your heart.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel ~ Maya Angelou
On those dark, damp Winter mornings he would often say, somewhat ironically, another day in Paradise. I like to think he has finally found his Paradise, and has an inkling of the impression he left on us all.
There’s a plaque now in the car park. Mike’s Place. In memory of Mike Robinson. His legacy lives on.
it’s never too late
I’m hugely inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore. I’ve watched, fascinated, this year as the story has unfolded.
Who would have imagined that, at the age of 100, he could become a worldwide phenomenon?
It’s a lesson in never saying never. Don’t think that you’re too old or it’s too late.
I think we all have pivotal moments. I know Captain Tom has had many others in his life. But what has happened recently probably trumps all the others.
It is the stuff of fairytales. Raising just short of £32m for charity. A Number 1 single. Two Guinness World Records. A birthday fly by. Countless press coverage. Two forthcoming books. A variety of honours including Honorary Colonel and, most recently, a Knighthood.
I wonder why this has moved so many of us?
Perhaps it’s because we all want to believe in the magic.
you never know what life has in store
Imagine losing your sight. Completely. Going through a hell of anxiety, depression, insomnia, hallucinations, nausea and muscle spasms for four years. Contemplating checking out.
But then turning a corner and discovering a craft called woodturning. And finding your salvation.
Then coming to the realisation that you don’t want your sight back.
This is my husband’s story.
Becoming blind took Chris on a whole new journey, one he had never imagined for himself. Now going by the moniker of the Blind Woodturner, Chris has inspired thousands with his story of hope and determination.
He travelled the length and breadth of the Hero’s Journey, emerging at the other end as one of a kind.
We would never have met if Chris had not lost his sight. You never know what life has in store for you.
your purpose finds you
Mike, Tom and Chris didn’t go looking for their purpose. It found them.
I can’t speak for Mike or Tom, but I know that Chris became who he believes he was always meant to be, after walking through the fire. He lived his life to the best of his abilities, he kept going day after day until, eventually, he emerged, transformed.
That’s what we all do.
We journey past various milestones in our lives, each one giving us the opportunity to see more clearly who we are, until we reconnect with our essence and who we are meant to be.