Image by Devin Avery
It is often difficult to identify your purpose. For some, the direction is crystal clear and the challenge relates to actualization alone; for others, the direction is undefined and the challenge is learning how to sift through distractions and truth aches to recognize the paths they are here to walk. — Jeff Brown
A man who is not on fire is nothing: he is ridiculous, he is two-dimensional.
He must be on fire even if he does make a fool of himself. — C. G. Jung
‘Truth aches.” That is how it feels. I was one of those people who had a definite sense of my direction, but who had a hard time working out the details. My conditioning was like everyone else in my family. We all had something ill fated, something leading the wrong way, to bad outcomes. I obeyed those impulses, but then caught myself once I identified the looming disaster, even if it was fifty years in the future. Once it became obvious, I bailed.
I identified it by a feeling of deadness, a lack of inspiration. You could say a lack of “fire.” My youngest brother watched us all inviting catastrophe and became excessively cautious. He often said that he never made a mistake, which is its own kind of catastrophe, in my opinion.
We were a wild bunch for a few years, but we calmed down a bit after one of us died in a stupid accident. That scared me for a while, but I finally decided that you can’t live forever. You have to try things, put yourself in challenging situations, and for me that meant travel. I needed to try out foreign places and ways of being. I needed to crack the carapace my small upbringing had installed on me.
I kept trying to do that in ways that felt most natural to me, by reading books, making art, learning languages and getting away from the culture I grew up in. I was criticized when I returned speaking in a “yankee accent,” which was only one marker among many of a growing host of differences that were forming.
I’m aware now of a suffocating blanket of family karma that I was instinctively resisting, but then I thought I was just following my interests. There was a little flame of inspiration that I was willing to suffer for. Not that the karmic load was completely dispelled. It wasn’t but I managed to have my own life, even if it meant being disinherited.
I arrive at a point where I can say I’ve learned the lessons I came to learn, and that I’ve had and continue to have an interesting life. In some cultures, to wish someone an “interesting life” constitutes a curse, but I am thankful for mine. The last thing I wanted when I was young was a life in which the fire had gone out.
The flame is still burning. I recommend doing whatever you must to keep it burning up to the last day.
- Anima Fire is my publication