The Consequence for a Lack of Purpose

Jim Ellis 
Legacy Magazine Editor

That fulfillment – that realization – that knowing – that feeling … when we are on the path that serves our higher purpose.

It’s what the classic mythologist Joseph Campbell acknowledged when he observed humans walking the walk of their chosen life.

Wrote Campbell: “If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are – if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.”

As observed by Campbell, just as we know when we are on the right track, we would also be cognizant when we were off track.

And what would the consequences be then?

What would the consequences be when we lacked a sense of purpose?

Nowhere to go, no direction heading anywhere. No pulling us forward or onward, for there would be nothing out into the distance doing that pulling.

Adrift. Without compass. No challenge to be better, to better ourselves. No reason to do so either. No reason to get up, out of bed, out onto a path, unrecognized, unrealized.

Little potential with no impact … not even a negative impact.

These are the thoughts that arise, imagining the void in mind, body and spirit, taking to heart a life lacking a sense of purpose.

The consequences of a lackluster and purposeless life can carry us downward as we wander aimlessly. One of the more negative consequences would see us living someone else’s purpose, in someone else’s vision, since we would not be living our own.

Here you would be just a pawn, a cog in the wheel of something outside of yourself. Yet, like Martin Landau said: “It’s better to live as your own man, than as a fool in someone else’s dream.”

Then came the advice from Apple’s Steve Jobs: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.”

Another consequence to a life without purpose sees us sliding right into some form of addiction, be that to alcohol, drugs or any other such distraction that would keep us from looking upon our devastation.

Writes Steve Taylor Ph.D. in Psychology Today (LINK), “Addiction can also be seen as an attempt to find a purpose. After all, when a person becomes an addict, their lives take on a very strong sense of purpose: to satisfy the addiction. I have often heard addicts describe how simple life becomes in addiction. There is always a clear goal in your mind and a motivation behind every moment of your existence. Everything else is secondary to the overriding purpose of feeding your addiction.”

Beyond addiction, at that final destination on the path of the purposeless, we find us in a space in the depth of darkness, that empty and meaningless place where there exists only one thought and one remedy: suicide.

This would be the ultimate choice, coming from a mind devoid of mission, a foresight void of vision, and a life lacking any purpose.

The final cry: why go on?

But it need not be this way. The darkest of places in life are normally followed by the sunset, when we must transform, not only to survive, but to realize something we did not perceive previously. Perhaps that transformation into deeper meaning must originate from that empty void: a timeless and lonely space that holds the seed of rebirth.

For in that rebirth we can move from hopeless to hopeful, from poor to rich, from empty to fulfilled, from the meaningless to the purposeful.

Jobs: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

At the deepest place, we can realize the path that serves our higher purpose … creating that fulfillment – that realization – that knowing – that feeling … like no other.

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