Friday, December 25, 2009

Lisa-on-purpose?

My name is Lisa. I am about to embark upon the scariest, most illogical, most exciting journey of my life! I am leaving my well-paid corporate job, with excellent prospects, to go and find my life’s purpose in the Tsitsikamma forest on the East Coast of South Africa. This is my personal experiment to discover whether it is indeed possible to find an authentic, fulfilling, meaningful expression of Self that will create abundance in my life.

This is Lisa-on-purpose!

I have decided to start this blog as a means of creating a chronicle of my experiences in this new phase of my life. I will be writing about finding, and living, my purpose. This is a way for me to keep friends and family updated on my progress but it may also be useful or perhaps entertaining (or even cautionary!) to others contemplating doing something similar.

So, how did I get to this place in my life?

I have spent a lot of time acquiring qualifications, firstly in Science and latterly, in commerce. I have been driven by an ambitious desire to be successful, to be “The Best”. I have always been motivated by doing what I thought was expected of me and what was the “right thing” to do; what would get me the most recognition and affirmation; a desire to “live up to my potential” and not let anyone down etc, etc.

I never really asked myself what it was that I most wanted to do; what my passion could be or how I could find happiness and a sense of connection through what I did for a living. So, hardly surprisingly, I did gain a lot of affirmation and recognition through my achievements but I often felt the lack of a sense of meaning or purpose in what I did every day. Sure, I felt satisfied every time my business achieved the budget or beat out the competition, but a whole lot of the time I felt empty and unfulfilled, despite my outward success.

In recent years I have discovered that the things that brought me the most satisfaction were the human connections I made with colleagues and customers, the growth and development of my team, the times I had a sense of creating real, lasting value for customers on a personal level. In short, the warm, soft, fuzzy things that are not really valued much in the corporate world!

Over a period of about 8 years I have been engaged in a process of finding love and acceptance of Self. As my journey progressed I became more-and-more disinclined to do what I thought was expected of me and more-and-more inclined to find out what I really wanted to do with my life. In my chosen career, I had started to feel like a highly trained monkey, adept at creating wealth for shareholders, but not really finding connection or meaning in my daily work. This situation had become increasingly unacceptable to me. I knew I HAD to find the courage to make a change.

The event I am about to relate may sound very strange; particularly coming from someone who is not at all religious. However, this event was the main catalyst for all the recent changes in my life. I don’t require you to believe this story, as it is my own subjective experience. However, I am unable to ignore it:


About 18 months ago, I was hiking in the Tsitsikamma forest. I had stopped for a breather during a steep climb out of a forested gorge when a little voice inside told me to turn around. I gazed, transfixed, at the magnificent view before me – the steep, forested mountainsides, the azure ocean, the river winding its way through the gorge below, each individual fynbos petal and blade of grass outlined in golden light, and suddenly it felt as if my heart was cracking open. I was utterly overwhelmed by powerful emotions, the likes of which I had never experienced before. Finding that my legs could no longer support me, I fell to my knees, with tears streaming down my face, saying, “Yes, yes, yes…” over-and-over again. I didn’t know what I was saying “yes” to, but I did know that I was irrevocably changed forever. Suddenly I knew that THIS was how I wanted and needed to feel; everything else was simply a pale imitation. The concept of career success, acquisition of wealth and belongings, approval and acceptance by society – these things seemed unbelievably trivial by comparison. Why try and acquire things to feel good about myself when I had discovered the most astounding, unimaginable feeling of connection and love?

As I said before, I am not at all a religious person, but I do believe that I experienced a connection with some Higher Power on that mountainside. In subsequent reading and research, I have reached the conclusion that what happened to me could be classified as a so-called “peak experience”, as described by the psychologist, Abraham Maslow. Of course it is possible to try and find a rational explanation for my experience on the mountainside and, as a trained scientist, I can advance all kinds of theories. However, as a human being, I knew that I could simply not ignore what I had experienced; I was dramatically changed forever and I knew that this change required some action from me. In my heart I unambiguously knew that I had to quit my corporate job, divest myself of all that did not resonate with my true Self and to make it my quest to discover the unique, authentic, meaningful contribution that I was destined to make to the world. I actually had no real plan; I just knew that I should follow my heart, wherever it would lead.

My heart’s desire was to move to the Tsitsikamma forest, and this is what I have been planning for the last year-and-a-half. I have latterly become aware of the fact that I don’t NEED to be in the forest in order to find my purpose. So, although it may appear as if I am preparing to move to the forest, I am actually moving to ME! It just happens to be easier for me to be ME when I am in the forest!

In the intervening months my life has changed SO much. The materialistic, acquisitive me has been replaced by a person who seeks meaning and connection in all things. I have been involved in a process of “weeding out” everything that no longer has meaning or contributes to my life and I have subsequently donated bags and bags of clothing, bedding, curtains and other stuff, collected over many years, to the Lifeline thrift store. I have also gifted, thrown away, recycled and otherwise disposed of, many, many other prized possessions that I previously believed were absolutely essential to my life. Every time I give something up, I feel lighter and freer. I realize that owning things brings with it added responsibilities, which, in turn, reduce our freedom. My goal is to be in a relationship of conscious ownership with every one of my possessions and to only have things in my life that I truly love and which create meaning and beauty in my world. In fact, I have started to realize that I actually don’t own anything – I merely have the privilege and responsibility of stewardship over my possessions whilst I reside on this Earth.

Relationships in my life have also started to change and, sadly, several friends and acquaintances of the past have drifted out of my life as I found that I no longer resonated with them. Fortunately, many new relationships that reflect my own growth and development have started to enrich my life.

So, what is the plan? Well, strangely enough, for an erstwhile “control-freak” there is not much of a plan at all! I need to finish disconnecting myself from the last vestiges of my old life, take stock and then actively start creating my new life. The old me would have felt unbelievably threatened and frightened by what I am about to do. I would have found it impossible to believe that I could survive without my corporate salary, my city lifestyle, the trappings of success, my work title, my status, my possessions… When I start to intellectually analyse all that has happened I find that I do start to feel anxious, but if I reside in my heart, I find complete peace and a sense of calm acceptance that all is EXACTLY as it should be.

Thanks to our corporate jobs, my partner and I have a fully paid-up home and sufficient funds to survive frugally for 2 years. We intend moving to the Tsitsikamma forest, initially to a rental property and then to possibly purchase a property once we have sold our house in Cape Town. For the rest, there is no plan other than for me to finish the book I have been writing on-and-off for about a year and for my partner to also complete his own on-line book. We want to start growing our own food and to investigate the possibility of living a self-sustaining life, as far as we possibly can. Other than that, our full-time “job” will be to discover and express our passion.

And, so the journey continues…

Next: My Final Goodbye to the Corporate World

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

SO Awesome! Hope you and Zingdad can feel the Love I send to you both!

Greg

Lisa said...

Hi Greg

Thank you so much!

Lisa

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful account. Much love to you and Zingdad.

Post a Comment