Life purpose? ‘Go with the flow’

More than once in your life you’ll hear the words ‘people don’t change’. It’s like a mantra out there that a lot of people believe in. You can even print t-shirts, or go with the tacky ‘people don’t change, they reveal who they really are’ or ‘they just find new ways to lie’… blah blah blah!

Well this won’t come as a surprise, but I beg to differ. I was once an aspiring scientist (even if only for a couple of hours) and if there’s one thing we’ve learned from our history and evolution is that Mankind is capable of change. If not, we’d be dead.

Yes, some people are a bit more… stubborn, than others. Some people are too narrow minded to be able to evolve, others are just stuck in a parallel universe, but from my experience and those around me, most people go through several changes in their lifetime. I believe this is called living.

I look back and think about things I thought I would be, how I dreamt I would be like, what I thought my priorities would be, and I could not be any further from that little girl, teenager, young woman… Well, truth be told, I probably changed more than some, see I like to keep my mind open and learn from every little experience I go through (the good and the bad). It is simply extraordinary sometimes to look back and think: Did I really think that? Did I really say that? Did I really do that? Did I really wear that? and so on and so on and realising that your current being would never think, say, do or wear such a thing. For me that feels absolutely wonderful, mostly because I believe I am a much better person today.

But with our Neanderthal days far behind us (OK, maybe not for all of us) we no longer evolve all together in the same direction, as coordinated as history books make us believe. Everyone goes through different changes – depending on your experiences, your ambitions, your relationships, your sorrows, your blessings, losses and gains, and so on. While some may change for the better, others may turn into vial little creatures, some become enlightened, some become bitter, some may just become different, and maybe it is true that some may not change at all. However I find that really hard to believe, or at least I have never met someone who hasn’t changed even if in the tiniest thing at all.

That being said, why is there an unspoken believe that we should pick a path and stick to it? That doesn’t make any sense to me. My thoughts today are different than my thoughts tomorrow. Sure I am the same person, but as I read, breathe, love, live and learn, I change, and so do my aspirations. So why are my choices not allowed to change?

In a job interview not too long ago I was asked the abominable question: “where do you see yourself in 10 years” and I decided to answer honestly “I don’t really know, life is so unpredictable!”. As I said it I could see their faces changing and I immediately knew it was the wrong answer even if it was the right one. But why? Is it possible that we became so narrow minded that we’ve made rules that don’t allow change? Are we trying to stop evolution?

I am not sure. This week I read an extremely refreshing post by Gustavo Tanaka, an author and entrepreneur whose blog I follow (although this particular post was sent to me by my husband). In his post Gustavo says he stopped looking for ‘a’ purpose and he goes on to explain why we should too. For a gal who’s been looking for IT (you know, the thing I’m supposed to do) for like 20 years (10 enforced by school teachers, other 10 by myself and/or society?), the following quote was like a breath of fresh air:

“I decided to simplify. Now, I try to answer none but one question: “Do I feel like doing this today?””

I’ve written in the blog before how recently I stopped feeling so panicky about not really knowing what I wanted to do, as I thought ‘it’s the journey that matters.’ But I cannot begin to tell you how refreshing it was to read this, to realise that maybe, I was on the right track all along (the irony here being there is no right track of course). And it gets better:

“I’ve changed so much in my life that I don’t know who I am anymore. Then, it’s likely I’ll change over hundreds of times and then again.
I think that’s the challenge. To accept that things will change, that I’ll have a change of heart and a change of mind, and that tomorrow I’ll be different somehow.”

As I finished reading his post I immediately shared it with a friend, who like me (and with me), has been looking for purpose. In fact I have lost track of how many ‘esoteric’ and ‘meaning of life’ conversations we had together. Her reply was priceless: ‘if we had read this 10 years ago we would have spared ourselves many frustrations… and existential conversations. But then again it wouldn’t have been the same’.

No it wouldn’t, and if there was some frustration, there sure was a lot of fun and laughter too. So I wouldn’t take it back. Still it’s nice to know that maybe, just maybe, our way of living which has basically been ‘go with the flow’, was right all along. And that maybe, just maybe, my teacher was wrong to tell me that at 15 I needed to know what I wanted to do in life and that I was right not to pick something just to reassure her. Because imagine her disappointment when a few years later I’d have a change of heart.

So remember, avoid frustration by keeping it simple and ask yourself: “do I feel like doing this today?

Read Gustavo Tanaka’s post here

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