Life as Art: Purpose

Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose, and therefore no point in carrying on. He was soon lost. Victor Frankl

I wrote about vision in Life as Art: Vision and about values in Life as Art: Values. During the two years I prepared myself to leave the corporate world, I thought and studied much about vision and values. I also pondered deeply my purpose for my life.

Purpose is our deepest reason for existence. Our purpose is our most profound expression of our most basic intent as spiritual beings. Purpose reflects our deepest essence and provides a consistency of intention as our lives unfold.

Purpose goes beyond the call to the right livelihood. Purpose guides the spiritual journey of the hero, and the return of the hero to serve humanity—self affirmation AND commitments beyond the self. When we live our purpose we make our unique contribution to humanity and our lives have meaning. I don’t know whether purpose is genetic, learned, God-given, or a mix of all three. I just know that purpose exists. We make the choice to live or refuse our purpose.

I experienced the might of ethics, excellence, and commitment as a young Secret Service Agent. I felt the power of love, connection, and authenticity as a lost soul at St. Mary’s Hospital. I discovered the energy of the human spirit and human potential in the change effort I led at the Star Tribune newspaper.

Melded with these awakenings, I felt beckoned to be more. I was curious and felt attracted to see and experience something more encompassing — a grander dimension of life. Feeling called to leave the corporate world, I wanted to learn how to live well in a world in constant flux and to live from an organic worldview that superseded and encompassed the mechanistic view of life I had grown up with. I wanted to live with more authenticity in all areas of my life, and I wanted to take the “hero’s journey” Joseph Campbell wrote about in his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. I wanted to see if the dynamics Campbell wrote about were real, and I wanted to see what I might become. I wanted to feel alive and to learn how to experience aliveness more of the time. I wanted to share my experiences with others. I would be my own learning laboratory. I was not a wealthy man with a flush wallet seeking a safe adventure into trendy spirituality. This was serious work about the nature of life itself—with my life as the experiment.  What an exciting and frightening prospect that was.

I worked hard and thought deeply on my fundamental purpose in life and came up with this:

To live my life as a series of mental, spiritual, and emotional adventures, and to share what I learn with others.

The two years of deliberate preparation was important because the sense of purpose gained, the values clarified, and the vision created replaced my fear with the hope, courage, and commitment to go forward on a new path for my life.

I did my study and work on vision, values, and purpose in the early 1990’s and I revisit my inner orientation often. I recommend the experience to all.

3 thoughts on “Life as Art: Purpose

  1. Viktor Frankl, whom you have quoted, is a hero of mine (I don’t have very many!) and certainly knows what knowledge (and action) of purpose is all about.
    I love where I sense this Life as Art series might be heading!! Thanks so much for your personal examples.
    Interestingly, I’m currently working with the previous (Values) theme in another way this week. I love how life works, and there is seemingly no end to the number of opportunities and ways the ART shows up!


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