TFRL is an ongoing series about the journey to The Fully Realized Life.
I had a great conversation with a friend the other day. I was telling her about people who inspire me, people who, despite the obvious challenges of juggling the businesses they’ve built doing what they love, and the marriages, children and friends with whom they spend rich, interesting, life-affirming time, they seem happy and relaxed. They seem, in ways I’ve never been, at ease within themselves and in the world.
I imagine them walking through life with a lightness I now want to cultivate, the lightness that I believe awaits me, on the other side of all of my grief. I imagine I will get there, to the other side, by simply emulating what I see, by acting “as if” my life were charmed.
At this point, my friend, who is wickedly funny and direct, bonked me on the head with a counter idea of her own: what if, instead of telling these envy-inducing stories about people with easy-breezy lives, I instead told stories of people who had triumphed over adversity? Naturally, I found a way to agree with her (for there is an inner coward within me), but as I drove home, and in the days since, her words have haunted me. The truth is, I saw her point. Sometimes we do need to see people just like us, doing things we only dream. But as her words washed over me, I realized they were not mine.
In this moment in time, as I work to stand beyond sorrow and grief, I am seeking the example of people for whom The Good (and Meaningful) Life has come easily — or more easily than it has come for me. These are the people who are providing me with the inspiration I need to make the life to which I aspire. Of course, my road is different from theirs. When I get where I’m going, when I’ve lived to tell the tale, mine will be the triumph over adversity story that my friend would like me to tell. But right now, I need to look away from adversity. She has been my bedfellow far too long. I am seeking new bedfellows, and finding them in these people I watch, through rose-colored glasses, from afar.
Maybe they’ve had an easier life than me. Maybe they grew up in a happy home, or had the right connections, or knew just how to navigate the big wide world. Maybe they knew from the start that the lives they would build were possible, that if they would leap they would fly. And knowing this, maybe they did not hesitate and maybe they did not doubt.
This is how I’ve imagined them at least, and they have been my beacon through a dark night, guiding me home to the hospitable world they see. And as I have started to believe, this hospitable world is what I’ve started to see. I’ve seen it in the people who’ve shown up for me, bearing the gift of their expertise or advice or introductions, or offering a kind, much-needed world. And as I have bathed in these gifts, I have started to feel a lightness too. It is filling me, surrounding me, flooding my world — until the dark places I’ve known are no more.
Here is what I believe — and when I speak here of time, I speak in the Einsteinian sense, where all time is now and all things exist within the field of infinite possibility:
We were each born to some high purpose.
Whether we are teachers, mothers or the president, the high purpose of our life is to live out the full truth of who we are.
Once upon a time, we knew who we were and became who we were destined to be.
One day soon, we will know again, and we will again make a world in which everyone has the vision, courage and opportunity to live a fully realized life.
When once we have made this world, this world will have what it needs.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY UNKNOWN via This Is Not New
PAULA PURYEAR is a Lawyer, Film & Television writer, HuffPoster and Founder of Revel In It Mag.