Quite recently, I had been stuck again on the question ‘what should I do?’. It comes in various forms. Sometimes it means ‘what vocation should I pursue?’, ‘what career path?’, or maybe ‘what jobs have to be done?’. Sometimes it broadens, becoming existential, and I wonder ‘how might I best use my time and energy on this planet?’.
There have been times when this question has haunted me. Like it was chasing me down. An incessant feeling, like someone standing too close at your shoulder.
I thought taking a break from trying to answer the question might also break the habit of asking it.
It did lead to an answer!
Now I understand the question. But still I ask it! Because now I understand the question. Or more to the point, the point of the question.
It is perhaps better regarded as a koan. Beautifully, and perhaps a little verbosioucly, described by Oscar Wilde.
“If you want to be a grocer, or a general, or a politician, or a judge, you will invariably become it; that is your punishment. If you never know what you want to be, if you live what some might call the dynamic life but what I will call the artistic life, if each day you are unsure of who you are and what you know you will never become anything, and that is your reward.”
― Oscar Wilde
The insight is in the difference between ‘what should I do?’ and ‘who might I be?’. One, you busy your self with things external to your own being, the other, you work on your self from the inside out and bring the world the best version of you you can be.
Continually practicing the art of becoming.
Growing. Learning. Evolving.
You are your own artist, poet, model and muse. You are your own musician, chef or designer. If you allow your self to be.
Focusing on the doing, the ‘what should I do?’, keeps us thinking we have to contribute something more than our selves. That there needs to be this other thing, separate from us in some way, that we ‘contribute to society’. Upholding the system.
But we don’t. Not now when the system is already broken and deserves to break down.
This is the moment of transformation. The transition from what was to what could be.
What could be? What is possible? The uncertainty of emergence, of moving forward without fully answering the question is the thing that holds so many back. The fear of the unknown.
Except for, there is nothing to hold on to now. The system is crumbling, rusted from the inside out. Leaving us with the question ‘ what should I do?’.
And the answer is: be. Learn to play, even when your world is falling apart. Find all the little things that make you smile, build stuff, pull old stuff apart and turn it into something new, grow things, do stuff outside, take a walk, take a bath, take a nap, read a book, dance in the kitchen, bake your self a cake.
And as you do, ask your self the question ‘ how might I show up for my self today?’. Through whatever it is that you are navigating as the world transitions, whatever the disruption or whatever is destroyed, what will you do for your self? How might you be?
If this is your opportunity for re-invention, who do you want to be?
If this is your opportunity for redirection, where do you want to go?
If this is your chance for renewal, how do you want to grow?
As you play and reflect, allow the answers to these questions to surface, to emerge. In this space between the ‘doing’ you might find a path to fulfilling your own life’s potential.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you be free from suffering.